A succinct, detailed career plan is one of the most useful tools you can use to identify where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there. 

Without a plan, you may find that your career and experience begin to misalign with your real goals and aspirations.

Importantly, in having a plan, you must also commit to reviewing and reassessing it, as your circumstances or preferences may have changed since the last time you set out your objectives.

Here are five key steps to help you create your own career plan.

Step 1: Self-evaluation

To discover what you really want to do, try answering these fundamental questions about your personality, preferences and values in your career plan. Take note about whether these are your current feelings and attitudes, or whether they are more long-term ideals:

  • What motivates me and what do I enjoy doing?
  • What are my personal attributes and lifestyle priorities?
  • What do my family and friends see as my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the five key things I am looking for in a new job?

Step 2: Research

While self-evaluation is an important first step, you should be cross-checking your priorities and preferences with what’s going on in your specific market or sector. You should also be researching upcoming developments, challenges and job opportunities, as this could absolutely affect your decision-making and intended career path.

You don’t want to find out later or when it’s too late that your role has been outsourced or taken over by AI. 

So ask yourself:

  • What does the job really entail and are the skills sets changing drastically?
  • Does the salary outlook and career progression path suit your needs?
  • Do you know which companies in your market or sector are thriving and which are not?
  • Are there any companies that raise red flags in terms of culture fit?

Step 3: Skills analysis

As well as your personal preferences, your existing skills are an important indicator of the direction in which you could head. Reflect on your skillset with the following questions:

  • What qualifications and experience do I have?
  • What are my key strengths, transferable skills and specific skills?
  • What are my biggest achievements to date?
  • What are my weaknesses and areas for development?

Step 4: Setting your direction

Based on your key interests, attributes, skills and experience, you can now start to formulate ideas on the type of roles and industries that will suit you best. 

Try brainstorming as part of your career plan:

  • The broad industries that really appeal to you
  • The types of roles that would suit you best
  • How these options match your personal preferences
  • Key skills that may need development

Step 5: Committing to a timeframe

Now that you have an idea of where you want to go, it’s time to work out how you can get there. 

Ask yourself the following questions to help break down your goals into smaller, more manageable milestones for your career plan:

  • What do I want to achieve within the next six, 12, 18 months?
  • How and when will I achieve my training and education goals?
  • How and when will I gain the additional skills and experience I need?
  • How can I expand my network, and by when?

Step 6: Review your career plan

Having established your goals and how to achieve them, you will now have a better sense of direction and importantly, the actions needed.  

It’s important to monitor the progress of your career plan every quarter, or at the very least every six months, to ensure that you are on track to meet your goals. 

Re-evaluating your career plan and goals allows you to also make adjustments based on changing economic and personal circumstances.

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