Five Steps For Creating a Productive Career Plan

Five Steps For Creating a Productive Career Plan

A career plan is an essential tool for making strategic, intentional choices for your professional growth. Often times, the process of creating a career plan can help you identify your interests and goals, allowing you to forge a path to reach them. How do you go about creating a career plan and better yet, hold yourself accountable to it? Follow these steps below to design a solid plan that will help you establish a framework for your professional development and reach your career goals.

1. Take Time For Self-Reflection

Whether you are just starting out or have been in the workforce for years, self-reflection is an essential step in creating a career plan that is sustainable and effective. Write down what skills you currently possess, your industry experience and what you enjoy doing. You’ll also want to write down where you think you could improve as it relates to your career. Are you lacking in experience or missing any industry certifications? Additionally, consider the employer benefits that are most important to you such as flexibility, maternity leave or paid time off. Having this down on paper will help you take an honest look at where you currently are and give you some items to consider when you take a look at different career options.

2. Identify Career Path Possibilities

Now that you have reflected on your current skills and abilities, take some time to explore potential career paths. Consider researching different career options as they relate to your skills and experience. It’s a good idea to ask peers, mentors or recruiters about different paths. You may find some careers out there that you hadn’t thought about. Once you’ve identified different options, write out a career tree of different possibilities from where you currently are in your career. Because we know that not all careers are linear, add both lateral (a new job that is at the same career level as your current job) and sequential (a new job or promotion that is at a higher career level than your current job) moves to the tree. Think about what positions lead to others and where you might have some crossover between paths. This tree will help you lay out the framework for career growth and get an idea of the various paths you can take over time.

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3. Establish Goals & Objectives

When establishing goals, it is important to make them realistic and relevant to your career success. What are some short-term and long-term goals that relate to your professional development? These may be more broad or specific depending on your situation. Look at the different career paths you wrote down and the steps needed to attain those positions to better identify goals, objectives and timelines that are realistic and relevant to your career success. Having all of this information on paper will help keep yourself accountable down the road.

4. Compare Options

After putting pen to paper and thinking out some potential career paths as they relate to your goals, you’ll want to compare the options. For each career point, think about what the skills, certifications and years of experience are needed to get there. Are some of these necessary for the position or just nice to have? Write all of these down for each opportunity so that you can easily compare the possibilities and paths. Which are the most realistic for you to pursue? Order these accordingly and consider the steps you can take in the immediate future to get closer to your next career move.

5. Revisit & Revise as Needed

Realistically, your career path won’t be as linear as the ones you researched and wrote down. You might look at your career plan in a year or two and not be where you expected to be. Adjust your plan as you progress in your career and revise your goals so that they make sense with your career trajectory. Hold yourself accountable to the items that you can control. Are you developing your skills to match the current needs of employers? Have you taken advantage of networking opportunities? Being honest with yourself will help you avoid staying stagnant and bring your attention back to your career growth and development.

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