How To Write a Career Plan
“Failing to plan, is planning to fail” Alan Lakein.
Creating a career plan is the first step to success. It’s important to research your industry and what’s available to you now and in the future. Consider any choices before you make them to give yourself the best chance of achieving success.
Learning how to write a proper career plan will allow you to establish meaningful and achievable goals, help you reach them, and prepare for any potential obstacles in advance that might pop up your way.
How do you write a career plan?
5 Things You Should Include in a Career Plan
In a hurry and can’t stick along? Check out the five key elements of a career plan:
8 Steps to Writing an Effective Career Plan
1. Start with the big picture:
To start writing your career plan, you first need to decide your overarching goal. This could include objectives like earning a higher salary, reducing stress in your life, completely changing careers, or getting a different job in your industry.
Whatever your goal is, it’s important to identify what it is and write it down.
2. Figure out what motivates you
It’s important to figure out your motives and what you’re passionate about. For example, if you don’t like sitting at a desk all day, you wouldn’t choose a job like accounting or administration.
What do you want to get out of a job?
Perhaps it’s to help people recover from injuries, manage a large team of like-minded people, or design buildings that people will look at in awe. This is a necessary step to move forward and establish if what you are doing is for the right reason.
3. Establish your current position
Before you jump into anything drastic, it’s important to assess where you are right now. You need to take an honest look at your life and evaluate your income, job position, and current standing in terms of education. This will help you brainstorm the next step, which is to identify your skills and start setting SMART goals.
4. Identify what qualities you bring to the table
Write a list of all your skills, experience, education, and personal attributes that you currently possess. If you are considering changing careers, think about transferrable skills that you could bring to a new company.
Experience is easily obtainable once you have a job. However, not everyone has personal qualities, such as managing a team or organising information systematically. Write down what sets you apart and highlight those going forward.
5. Set SMART, tangible goals
Start planning by getting a big piece of paper, putting sticky notes on a blank wall, or writing on a whiteboard. Create a timeline for yourself, where you are now, and in how long you want to achieve your “main” goal. Whatever goals you set for yourself should be tangible and measurable in some shape or form. That is why it’s important to write SMART goals – smart, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
For example, if you are trying to improve your people management skills, rather than simply saying “I’d like to be better at managing people,” make it more definite by saying, “Over the next six months, I’ll attend a leadership course to develop my interpersonal skills so that I am able to communicate with a broader range of people effectively”.
Keep in mind that your end goal could be dynamic, and you will need to re-evaluate your goals as your career progresses.
6. Identify the barriers
Make a list of potential obstacles that could hold you back from achieving your goals. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to reach them without a setback, so it’s important to identify what they could be now. That way, when they do appear, you are ready for them.
Some examples of potential barriers include poor time-management skills or external factors such as an unstable job market.
7. Figure out how to overcome these barriers
As soon as you have written down any barriers, it’s just as important to figure out how to overcome them so that you can reach your goals.
If you have poor time-management skills, think about steps you can take to combat this. You could do something simple like create a ‘To Do’ list at the start of every day and have a calendar of the month with important due dates.
If it’s something out of your control, such as a competitive job market or limited jobs, it might be a necessary step to talk to a career advisor who can help you build connections and learn about the hidden job market.
8. Have a career advisor review your plan or make one with you
If you are unsure whether you have completed a successful career plan or don’t even know where to start, then seek advice from a career coach. They are experts at this and could be a great asset in planning your future with you so that you make the right choices now and set yourself up for success. Here are some good reasons to do that.
Whatever your career goals might be, you can be a step ahead of your competition by writing a career plan. Creating a plan is not only a good idea, but it is how you can be successful. It breaks down what could be perceived as something daunting and unachievable into small manageable tasks that you can do easily, which will motivate you to continue.
Willing to give it a try right now? Download our career plan example template today and take the first step towards succeeding at your goals. Best of luck!