A career development plan is the tool which you can use to plot and record your career development. If you work for a company with career development policies and frameworks in place, you may already be provided with the template for a career development plan; for example, if you are encouraged to keep a personal development plan, or some other way of regularly keeping track of your motivation, achievements and aspirations.
These are the types of things that you are encouraged to think about when appraisals and performance reviews are approaching, but if you are serious about developing your career, you should be thinking about them all the time, not just once a year!
If you don’t have access to this kind of framework at work, then don’t worry – it’s easy to start your own career development plan. There are lots of career planning tools and templates out there, but there is no one format that you need to use. The best way to start is to create a folder where you can keep all your career development paperwork and other material, such as your notes and jottings.
Again, there is no definitive list of things you should and shouldn’t include – it’s whatever you feel will be useful in helping you to focus on where you are now, where you’d like to get to, and how you’re going to get there. Your career development plan will be a mixture of career-related documents and material that you have collected, plus your own notes and analysis of your motivation, future aspirations, and generally how you think and feel about your career.
The important point is to view keeping a career development plan as a continuous process, which you should be proactive about updating and reviewing, and in which you should be honest with yourself about your goals, likes and dislikes, and strengths and weaknesses. It won’t be so effective if you keep it in a dusty drawer and drag it out every six months, under duress, which is often the case with appraisals and work objectives!
Read on to see our suggestions for what you might want to keep in your career development plan.
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