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Your career development starts with planning it

Job seekers speak with recruiters
Job seekers speak with recruiters
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

People who are the most successful and have the most enjoyment from their careers have proactively determined what they want from their career. Once they’ve decided on their development goals, they make a plan to accomplish it. By developing a career plan, you can focus on what you want to do and how to get there. And when you are ready to develop your resume and online profile, you will have a better understanding of your skills and experiences to discuss with current and potential employers.

According to Satu Kreula, an executive and personal career coach, "We are often 'waiting' for somebody (HR, our line managers, etc.) to actively invest time in our career development. Whilst in some organizations and with some individuals this might be the case, in the new economy, it's often up to you to take proactive steps and invest in your career progression."

"When you realize that change is constant and you are constantly planning so you stay ahead of the game, you will find yourself in a great position to recognize and capitalize on opportunities that present themselves", writes Dianna Podmoroff of

The following is a career checklist of questions to ask yourself, as you begin to plan your career development path:

  • Do you need additional job skills, experience or information?
  • What areas of yourself will you need to develop?
  • Do you need to develop a wider network or links with specific people?
  • Is there a course you need to do (perhaps to gain specific qualifications or skills)?
  • Do you need to find ways to demonstrate your skills and knowledge so you can provide evidence of what you can do?
  • What actions do you need to take to realize your career goals?
  • Do you need to find out more about what would be required to achieve your career goals?
  • Do you need to find out more about what is available? If so, how will you do this?
  • What kind of work experience would be helpful to you?
  • What new job skills or knowledge will you need?
  • Do you need to demonstrate you have job skills in particular areas?
  • Who can you discuss your goals with? When will you do this?
  • Are you clear about the type of work you would like to do? How can you clarify this further?
  • Do you have a supportive network? If not, what could you do about this?
  • Do you have a mentor with whom you can discuss both the technical content and the intangibles of your job? If not, have you thought about finding a mentor? Is there someone in your workplace or elsewhere you could approach?
  • Do you need to make some radical changes to your present direction? What are the first steps to achieving this change in direction and how will you take these steps?

Here is a recommended career development plan from

  1. Make career planning an annual event-Find a day or weekend once a year, more often if you feel the need or if you’re planning a major career change.
  2. Map your path since last career planning-One of your first activities whenever you take on career planning is spending time mapping out your job and career path since the last time you did any sort of planning.
  3. Reflect on your likes and dislikes, needs and wants-Always take time to reflect on the things in your life, not just in your job, that you feel most strongly about.
  4. Make note of your past accomplishments-Making notes of your past accomplishments is not only useful for building your resume, it’s also useful for career planning. Sometimes reviewing your past accomplishments will reveal forgotten successes, one or more, which may trigger researching and planning a career shift.
  5. Set career and job goals-Develop a roadmap for your job and career success. A major component of career planning is setting short-term (in the coming year) and long-term (beyond a year) career and job goals. Then review and adjust those goals as your career plans progress or change.
  6. Explore new education/training opportunities-Never pass up chances to learn and grow more as a person and as a worker.
  7. Research further career/job advancement opportunities-When creating a career plan you must picture yourself in the future, you must ask yourself, where will you be in a year? In five years?

The idea behind your career development plan is to help you reach your career expectations. Everyone has aspirations and specific levels they would like to reach. Part of the planning process actually involves you developing specific career goals and mapping out a course on how to best reach them.

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