Easy Steps to Build a Winning Career Development Plan for Your Growth

American author Mark Twain said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started”. So when it comes to building your great career, the starting point is to create a career development plan. It will provide you with a sense of direction and a clear picture of the goals you need to achieve at every stage of your career journey. 

What is a Career Development Plan?

Quite simply, a career development plan (CDP) is a list of long and short-term goals that employees set for themselves in either their current role or pre-emptively for their future jobs. It includes a variety of experiences that employees must have, to achieve the goals they have set for themselves. 

Why is a CDP Important?

Having a career development plan has been evidenced to impact employees positively. It aids in motivating employees, boosts morale, increases productivity, career satisfaction, and responsiveness to meeting departmental and organizational goals. 

In effect, it helps employees create an actionable plan that will lead them to their dream job. Therefore, if you have not found your perfect job, a robust career development plan could be the best place to start.

The Ideal Time to Create One

There is no ideal time to create a CDP as it is an ongoing and continuous process that needs active managing. At the end of every phase in your career, you need to ask yourself about the next step you must take to increase your options in the future and get closer to your ultimate purpose, provided you have narrowed down on one. 

Building an Effective Career Development Plan

You don’t have to worry about relying on your employer to make a compelling and actionable CDP. It is something that you can do on your own too. You need to identify and assess certain things before you create your career development plan. These include the following:

1. Scan Your Current Position

Take a look at where you are at present. Man analyzing Ask yourself questions like:  

  • What are my past experiences? 
  • Do I have the right skills? 
  • What motivates me to work?

Take some time out to find your answers and record them.

2. Identify the Destination

Take your time to introspect and reflect on what you want to achieve. Doing so will help you look into various challenges and obstacles holding you back. Then, side-by-side, make a note of your career goals. 

After this, you first establish where you would like to see yourself in maybe a year or two. You then establish where you would like to see yourself in the next five to ten years.

3. Research Jobs of Interest

Do so, but keep in mind your current skills and experience. Make a note of the skill expectations and work experience those roles demand.

4. Engage with your Network

If you have a mentor or know someone working in a job role that you are interested in, arrange a meeting with that person. Share your thoughts and plans. Also remember to ask questions that will help you work towards your goals to successfully reach that position of interest.

5. Level Up

Note down your qualifications and give them a rating. Doing so will help you understand where you need to improve. Sometimes, it isn’t possible to acquire all your target skills on the job. In such situations, look into external programs that will help you improve. At Emeritus, we offer a range of programs to help you upskill based on your goals. 

Once you have set all of the above in place, you will be ready to create your plan. Take into account the skills, education, and experiences that you must accomplish over the next few years. Then, create a plan that will help you achieve your goals. These are the components of your CDP:

#1: Task-Oriented Goals: Add a set of tasks to help you achieve each item on your list. For example, if you need to take up a particular course to learn graphic design, then that must be a part of your CDP.

#2: Organize Your Goals: Set out to first achieve the smaller goals that you know you can do within a short period and then work towards the bigger goals, setting timelines accordingly.

Woman organizing work

#3: Practice SMART Thinking: SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. When you design your goals based on this template, achieving them can be plotted within a timeline.

#4: Task-Based Deadlines: Allocate a timeline against each task. For example, if you plan to enroll in a course, you will need to apply and buy the required books. Give yourself a realistic start and end date to finish this task. 

Stick to the Plan with Healthy Habits 

Making plans is the easy part. The challenge is transforming them into reality. The same applies to any and all Career Development Plans. Here are some habits that you can cultivate to achieve your goals for your CDP: 

  1. It’s All About the Targets

Set realistic targets that you are 100% confident you can achieve within a specific time frame. Once you have accomplished the first one, give yourself another target. The idea behind doing this is to refresh your targets and continuously work towards new goals. 

  1. Be Positive. Be Persistent.

Like everything else in your life, it is essential to believe in yourself and remain persistent in accomplishing your goals and succeeding.  

  1. Keep Track of Your Accomplishments and Milestones

Check-in to see how much you have accomplished and whether you are on the right track and going as planned. And remember to enjoy and celebrate the milestones that you achieve along the way! 

Driving Career Development From Within

A study conducted by Randstad – a global staffing firm, stated that only 49% of employees said that their leaders practice employee development. So although career development plans play a significant role at the organizational level, they aren’t prioritized. Organizations will benefit tremendously from forming clear strategies to assist in the growth of talent within their teams. 

Once you figure out what your plan is, you need to start equipping yourself to pursue the path with confidence. You should also consider upskilling through various options available in Emeritus to enhance your knowledge. 

You may also want to read: How Online Learning Can Help Improve These Top 3 Soft Skills

Happy growth to you!

By Annabel George

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