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Why should I have a career development plan?

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 18 Oct 2019

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A career development plan is a strategy used to assist professionals and help them to achieve their desired career goals. You can begin thinking about your career development at any time and it completely depends on you and what you want to achieve. The plan should consist of both short-term and long-term goals that will help you reach your desired end goal. These ‘stepping stone’ goals should be tailored to you and your own abilities. Sometimes, it can be very easy to compare your career to others, but everyone works at their own pace and you should take your own abilities and any other commitments you have into consideration.


The whole purpose of a career development plan is to help you reach your goals and keep you motivated. Having an idea of what you want to achieve, and a list of manageable goals can help keep you happy with your working life. It will keep you busy in the current job you have, or in your studies and help you get ready for the next steps in your career. Remember, you are always learning and pushing yourself to learn will mean your career can only continue to progress.

Trial and error

Whether you have a well thought out plan or just a rough idea of what you want to achieve throughout your career, nothing is going to stay exactly the same. You could spend days or weeks putting work and ideas into your career plan, but things change. There will be some things that will take longer to complete and tasks that just might not get finished. It’s all about trial and error. Keep trying and evolving in your career. Additionally, you may change your mind. People are always finding new interests and developing new skills, you may just find something else that you want to do and change job roles or even your whole career. You never know what will happen, so don’t spend the whole time fixating on a plan. It’s meant to be a guide, not a play by play of your entire career, be flexible.


Where to start?

  • Establish an overall goal – Where do you want to end up? What is the job role you are working towards and how are you going to get there? This may change, it may not, however, having an overall goal will give you something to work towards and keep you motivated.
  • Consider where you are right now – How far away are you from reaching this goal? What steps do you have to take and how long will it take you? Don’t assume you will reach the goal overnight, more often than not, it’s not possible.
  • Goals – Break down your goals into step by step actions. These can be small tasks that you can complete every day, or bigger tasks that you will do over time. Make sure you are sticking to your goals, but not pushing yourself too hard. You don’t want to end up hating your work by over doing it.
  • Barriers – There may be some things that can stand in the way of your success. However, if you address them and push through it, you overcome any barriers you may have and succeed.
  • Deadlines – By giving yourself deadlines, you give yourself a time limit, hopefully making you want to work harder towards completing them. The more you get done, the quicker you are on your way.
  • Keep checking – It can be easy to get caught up in work and forget why you are doing it all. Make sure you keep going back to your plan and understand why you are doing all this. Remind yourself of why you wanted this and if it’s no longer what you want, change it. You have the ability to change it to whatever you want to do.

A career development plan may not be for everyone. Some professionals just like to go with it and see where their career will take them and that’s okay to. You need to be doing this for you and no one else, so if you don’t see the purpose, go back and evaluate it all. Always make sure that the plan is your own and you are doing it for your own self-improvement and progression.