Planning for Career Development – 5 steps to rocket your Professional Career.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” —Confucius

Planning for Career Development is an integral part of any individual’s successful career. They hold the individual’s interest and maintain focus in the long run. They convey career objectives, explain the objectives of the current work, define the goals for career development, and serve as a central introduction to lifelong learning.

Career planning isn’t something done once and forgotten. Given that the typical worker changes professions five to seven times throughout their lifetime, career planning should be done at a minimum once per year.

An ever-changing workplace needs a career management strategy. Employers constantly want to recruit, employ, and retain the strongest individuals. Consider yourself a business with a product to offer and develop a plan for promoting your potential at work.

This article provides information and resources on effective Planning for Career Development. Let’s get started by answering the question – What is a career development?

What is a career development?

Career development is the process of self-discovery and decision-making that defines your professional path. In order to select and train for professions that match your personality, qualifications, and interests, you must be effective in navigating your professional choices.

If someone pays close attention to their professional growth, they are able to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as their own blind spots, and then work hard to enhance their abilities. It also included studying various jobs and sectors in order to find one that was a good fit for their skills, looking for chances to improve their careers, and even changing occupations entirely if they discovered a more appropriate one.

Planning for Career Development is a personal action plan that may be used to construct a roadmap for the future of one’s professional career. The following is an example of typical career planning:

  • Where you are currently in your career is the starting point.
  • Where do you wish to go with your career?
  • The difficulties you must overcome in order to get to your goal.
  • How to bridge the gap and get to your desired position?

Your customized development plan will assist you in identifying precise, attainable professional objectives, as well as developing and implementing methods to achieve them.

Planning for career development benefits

Either you are fresh out of college or have been in the industry for many years, developing a career development plan may be a valuable tool in achieving your objectives faster. Making a plan for your future career will not only assist you in achieving your professional objectives, but will also assist you in remaining motivated and inspired at work, increasing your efficiency, and strengthening your relationships with co-workers and managers.

The following are some of the reasons why a career development plan is essential:

  • It assists you in determining your future career path
  • It enables you to take responsibility for your own development
  • It assists you in identifying areas that need development
  • Provides the self-assurance needed to go on to the next level

Effectively, you will become more proactive in finding out, and maximizing on growth opportunities that are available to you both inside and outside of your organization.

You will also enhance your capacity to perform successfully in your present job while also preparing you for future roles you may want to take, either inside or outside of your organization.

If you stick to your strategy, there is a good possibility that you will be able to advance your profession to the next level.

How to put together a realistic Planning for Career Development?

While you now understand what is a career development plan and its associated benefits, you are ready to create a professional development plan for yourself by following the steps outlined below:

1. Analyse your current position and skills.  

Identifying where you are currently in your career is the first step in any professional development strategy. It helps you choose professions based on your unique personality, skills, interests, and values. This early step may help you avoid years of unnecessary frustration from selecting a profession that doesn’t fit well with these elements.

A self-assessment may also help uncover new job options. This knowledge may help you be more receptive to new job opportunities in emerging sectors. An evaluation may also help you discover weak areas where further training or education might help you build current talents into a long-term career.

Try to answer the following questions:

  • What is my background? – Education and professional experience.
  • What am I good at and enjoy doing? – For example, computer programming.
  • What do peaople tell me I’m good at?
  • What inherent abilities do I have?
  • What values are important for me? –  Like achievement, status, and autonomy.
  • What makes me enthusiastic and motivated at work?
  • What about my job inspires me to get up every morning?
  • Do I prefer working in a team, alone, or leading a team?

Consider writing down your answers. That will help you to analyze all important factors in creating a development plan.

2. Explore your career destination

Exploring and researching your career options is the second stage in career planning. It takes your self-assessment a step further by narrowing down areas of possibility based on your own interests, skills, values, and work-life requirements. You will identify your career destination and then take action to get there.

What is your dream job role? What would you want to be doing in five to ten years?  Include your long-term professional objective. If your desire is to become a Project Manager, put it in your plan.

Create more precise objectives in the form of short statements

Establishing where you want to go in smaller increments may be beneficial. Where do you want your career to go in two years, given where you are now and the skills you have? 

The most crucial step is to figure out which professions and employment best suit your abilities, interests, values, personality, and desire of who would you like to be.

Take a look into the next five to ten years

Think about where you want to be in five to ten years. This is a more significant stage that will need you to consider possibilities two or three steps down the road.

Do you wish to stay in your present business but in a higher-ranking position? Do you wish to work for a different company? Alternatively, you may wish to make a complete career change. Make sure your stated objectives are in line with what drives you the most.

Where to look at for your career destination?

Career destination is a crucial stage since it teaches you about career exploration considerations, what companies expect from workers, and how to pursue new possibilities.

You may utilize online and print resources to get a job description, learn about particular work responsibilities, and collect employment market data such as median wages and job prospects. After you’ve finished your basic research, you may start removing occupations that don’t interest you and learning more about those that do.

3. Perform a gap analysis for skills development

Improving your skills to fit your chosen job is the third stage in career planning. That can be done through gap analysis.

Gap analysis

A gap analysis compares actual performance to the intended result. Begin by searching for employment openings that match your abilities, experiences, and criteria. You may evaluate your credentials to see where you excel and where you need more practice.

After creating a list of your current skills and your desired destination, go through it line by line and compare your existing abilities, background, and expertise to the requirements. Create a basic rating system ranging from 1 to 5, with 1 indicating that you do not fit the criteria and 5 indicating that you completely match the requirement. With this method, the lower your rating is, the more time and effort will be required to improve.

Once you’ve finished this activity, list any areas in which you need to improve. Identify common areas of expertise and group them together. You’re likely to discover patterns in which competencies you have a strong foundation in versus others that need further improvement. Check to see if there are any things that must occur in a certain order. For instance, before you can take on more duties at work using a certain piece of software, you must first learn how to operate it. You will generate a list of necessary skills, education, and experience that are needed to achieve your desired outcome.

Gap analysis is an important step in your planning for career development as it helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses where skills development needs can be identified.

Skills Development

Skill development refers to the process of improving yourself and your skill sets in order to provide value to your future job and company.

Professional growth requires you to improve your capabilities. Assessing which skills are essential for your intended professional growth is part of gap analysis. 

Skills that you choose to focus on maybe skills that you need to develop now for future success (for example, presentation skills for future job interviews) or skills that are required for success in your current program (for example, specific research skills, software skills, and so on). You will be much more equipped for your next professional move if you concentrate on developing one to three particular skills this year, and then do the same throughout each year of your training (and likely more successful during your training).

If you are new to e-Learning or have a bad experience in this type of education, you could be interested in learning how to be successful in online courses. Here you will find a useful guideline. 

Creating your own curriculum is similar to setting skill-development objectives. You may establish SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) objectives for how you will obtain training, practice the skill, and get feedback for each skill you wish to develop (training, practice, feedback cycle).

Attending a Leadership session, for example, may help you become a successful leader. Attending sessions on Success-Oriented Skills may increase your chances to get your dream job or being promoted.

Then, in order to optimize your skill development, you may put the methods you learned in the workshop to use in your daily interactions with your team and collaborators. Then you may seek input from trustworthy co-workers, your boss, or anybody else who is accessible and willing.

4. Prepare your career development plan

After identifying the skills and experiences necessary to accomplish your professional objective, you may go on to developing a specific plan to reach your desired destination.

In this section, you will outline the actions you will take to put your strategy into action. Create your strategy based on all you’ve learned about your abilities, interests, and values, as well as the knowledge you’ve collected about the world of work. During this phase, you will create a strategy for your professional development. It will act as a guide to achieving your ultimate aim of obtaining a position in a field that you believe is a good fit for your abilities. Determine which long-term and short-term objectives you will need to achieve in order to attain the ultimate objective.

Begin by asking yourself the following questions: 

  • What actions/steps will assist me in achieving my career objectives?
  • Can I obtain support?

This phase will result in:

  • a plan to assist you in further exploring your options such as work experience, job shadowing or further research
  • a plan that outlines the actions you will take to help you reach your next learning or work objective such as a promotion or new better job.

There are three main elements to create effective planning for career development:

Focus on small activities that lead to the main objective

This is the action plan that will lead you to your main objective. Remember to use outcomes from previously made gaps analysis. You will be focused on the identified gaps with clear guidance to put adequate actions that will lead you to your desired goal. Make a list of tasks linked to each goal on the list. For example, if one of your goals for career development is to become a Project Manager, you might:

  • Enrol in a training course or professional certification,
  • Practise with a co-worker, 
  • Be a part of coaching and mentoring program,
  • Approach your manager to be involved in one of the ongoing projects in your work as a part of gaining hands-on experience. 
  • Be given a set of specific tasks to develop your skills in right direction

Learn more about how to use online courses to improve your employability and promotion prospects.

Create a timeline

Organize the strategy as a timetable to achieve your goals for career development. Begin with short-term tasks that you can achieve relatively quickly like reading specialized articles, then go on to longer-term objectives like earning a degree, achieving professional certifications, or any other type of micro-credentials.

Set task due dates

The easiest way to stay on track is to give yourself deadlines. Give yourself a “start by” and ”end by” time frame for a task. Plan out any pre-steps for each item. For example, as a part of required prerequisites, you may need to take a preparation training course or free introduction course before enrolling in professional certification

You now have a career development strategy.

5. Monitor progress and re-evaluate if needed

Once you’ve established a professional development plan, it’s not over. The following actions will now be taken to commence the implementation stage:

Keep track of your actions

Keep note of how your actual implementation matches with the dates you set in order to hold yourself accountable. Review the list frequently enough to ensure that you are still on track to meet your goals within the specified time frame.

Use milestones to track effectiveness

Once you’ve started going through your list of activities, you’ll want to figure out how to track progress in your professional development. In another word, you want to track the effectiveness of defined actions in your development plan.

Making valuable career connections, finishing an important certification, or achieving professional objectives may all be considered a successful milestone of your professional development, that will lead you to your targeted career destination such as a promotion or a new dream job.

Goals for career development should be updated appropriately

Unforeseen situations will occur. Be prepared for various changes. A job offer may change your professional path.  Many variables may derail your development plan. The strategy is not set in stone, so you should revisit it regularly to adjust if needed. Prepare to re-evaluate your plan in time, and modify it to suit your current situation.

Final words

Planning for Career Development is not rocket science however with planning you can rocket your career. Be prepared for failures but persist in your efforts and never give up on your dream career or promotion.

Never, ever give up!

Things take time, but if you’re ready, they may happen faster than you think. Since there is so broad access to online education, getting an excellent job nowadays is not difficult.

  • stay ahead continuosly improving your skills,
  • make valuable career connections,
  • be prepared and flexible for changes

You can achieve it regardless of adversity by consistently sticking to your own strategy.

Think BIG, Stay FOCUSED

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