Climbing the Ladder: How to Create a Career Development Plan that Ensures Success

Lockdown has given us plenty of time to think about our careers and whether we are really getting what we want out of our professional lives. Employees have been taking this time to better themselves in many ways.

This has been anything from taking courses that are CPD accredited to further current knowledge or training oneself in a new skill for a career change. Others have cast their ordinary working world aside and set up businesses after contemplating if they really enjoy their jobs.

However, a substantial amount of us are using this time to deliberate our current roles and to assess if we are really making the most of our ingenuity and how we can ensure success in our careers. Not only is this for personal benefit but also the benefit of employers and businesses, with a shock to the economy, the worry of what will happen in the future is causing employees to push themselves further to save their companies.

This is why knowing how to create a proper career development plan is essential, without one, we could easily fall at the first hurdle or become lost in our progress and fall down the incorrect path for our wants and needs.

Exactly how do we create a career development plan? Read the guide below to take the first step to fulfil your true potential at work.


Where Are You Now?

What is your current position and what experience has this brought you? Of those experiences, what did you enjoy doing?

Analyse what elements of your role came naturally to you and what seemed more of a struggle and what motivates you to push through those harder tasks. There are always sides to every job that can mentally and physically drain you, but there are also ones that energise you, what are they?

Most importantly does your current role provide a stepping stone to your calling in life and does it motivate you to get up in the morning?

Write all these elements down and assess any negative points. Are these something that can be addressed by yourself, further education, more support at work or career progression?

If you do not feel positive results, it may be time to factor in a career change.


What Do You Want?

It’s easy to say you want progression, responsibilities or a higher wage but think needs to be thought out in detail.

Identify where you want to be, this could be a specific position within departments, management teams or perhaps a similar role within a new company or starting your own.

When do you want to achieve this? This could be a short-term or long-term goal. There is no such thing as planning too far ahead.

This is where you can start to become more concise with your goals, set specific objectives that are realistic to help to achieve your dream position.

Start with smaller goals while simultaneously planning larger ones that can be focussed on once the initial targets are completed. Once you have achieved your smaller targets, it will become easier to visualise how to complete the others.


What Are Your Gaps?

It’s easy to set goals without thinking about the realities of achieving them. By providing yourself with a gap analysis, you can see what areas you may need to focus on to accomplish where you want to be.

A good place to start is to understand the job descriptions of your dream role and see what elements do not match your current skills.

You can also talk to managers and other colleagues to gain a better understanding of this. Even if you are planning on taking your new skill set to a different company, you can still discuss with management about new skills you would like to bring to your current company.

Any good manager will be delighted to hear you are wanting to further your skills as this will not just benefit you, but also your team and company. They are often one of the best resources for gap analysis as we often ‘don’t know what we don’t know’.

Once this list has been collated, you can get a better gauge of your current skills and education and work out what needs to be improved to achieve your goals.

Identity common skills you may need to improve on and group them together. You will soon see patterns and have a better understanding of your priorities.


Create Your Plan

Now you know what you need to improve on, you are ready to make your career development plan.

This will include the list of skills and education you need to gain over your set time period to achieve your career goal.

Set tasks for each one of these skills that need to be completed, this could be at work, within education, practising with new software or simply reading at home.

Create a timeline for this plan, you can quickly become lost and overwhelmed with such lists but setting out a timeline can make the whole process seem more manageable.

Try to set these in a coherent order, for example, if you are wanting to progress your knowledge with new software, there you would need to download and be given basic training before you master the elements useful to your goals.

By giving yourself a deadline for each task, it helps to keep yourself accountable. However, remember to make these deadlines realistic or you can quickly become disheartened if deadlines are missed and give up on the plan altogether.


Measure Your Achievements 

Just because you have created a development plan, it doesn’t mean it ends there. Keep track of all your achievements and check-in on yourself at least every few months.

By asking a manager or colleague to help track your progress, you are more likely to stick to your plan. We naturally want to impress others and the thought of disappointing someone else can motivate you.

Ask a manager to regularly check-in and help you make sure you are making the right progress for your goals. It can be easy to forget what was once discussed and interpret notes in the wrong way so making sure a superior is keeping you on track can be one of the biggest helps.

It’s important to remember that your plan may take a different turn unexpectedly and you should adapt your plan accordingly.

Your plan could be impacted both positively and negatively without warning, for example, you may be offered a new role which requires different skills, or redundancy could mean you have to apply your skills to a different industry.

Don’t let this put you off your career plan, simply adapt it.

With a proper career development plan always in the back of your mind, no matter what life throws your way, you should be able to achieve what you are capable of and deserve.


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