A career plan is a clear strategy for ascertaining your skills, your ideal career path or destination, and the resources you will need to get there.
You create this plan when you want to be deliberate about your career journey. It’s like a roadmap, complete with the important details that’ll help you on the way.
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What a Career Plan Should Include
Your career plan should have these things in it:
•Steps you’ll take to achieve those goals
Is it Necessary to Have a Career Plan?
While most people pay only superficial attention to planning their careers, it’s something you should take seriously. With a workable career plan, you’ll know where you’re going. It’ll also be easier to keep your eyes on your goals, and not get derailed (for long periods).
When you’re getting discouraged or distracted, this plan could inspire you to keep going.
When Should You Write this Plan?
The earlier you come up with a career plan, the better. But while it’s preferable to have one before your first formal job-hunt, you can (and should) write it whenever there’s career progression or switch to be made.
As long as you have a viable professional path in front of you, you can make a plan to get through it.
How Do You Create a Career Plan?
Take these steps to create a career plan that you can succeed with.
1. Assess Yourself
Understand your personality and skills. Consider how these could be expressed in a job or career. You may have to list them, so you can think clearly about them.
2. Examine Your Options
When considering your career options, look out for the ones that:
•Are a fit for your personality type
•Require someone with your skill sets
•Are in line with your financial goals (pay, income, etc)
•Are feasible, given your location, resources, and other constraining factors
Look online. Ask people who you believe should know. Come up with a list, and trim it down based on the criteria listed above.
Find something that’s at the intersection of these things. Such a career is likely to be more satisfying than possible alternatives.
3. Set Out a Path Through Your Career
If you have chosen a career path, you’ll want to know how your journey through it should go. There are conventional routes for most industries, but yours doesn’t need to conform perfectly to these templates.
Learn as much as you can about what you’ve chosen. Read about people who have been successful at it. Plot a path. Then measure it against what obtains in the industry, to determine if it’s achievable.
4. Provide a Timeline and Set Milestones
Timelines are important. They help you become more deliberate about achieving your goals. Each target you set must be met within fixed periods. There should also be milestones that indicate success and progress.
Those milestones could be earning professional certification, landing a job, or gaining a promotion. Whatever they are, you should have a timeframe within which you’ll make them happen.
5. Track Progress
As you work with your career plan, you should measure your progress against the expectations outlined in the plan. If you’re striking things off your list within the time limits you’ve set for yourself, you’re doing well.
But if there’s considerable stagnancy, you should define the reasons for that. If it’s something that’s within your control, work to fix it. If it’s totally out of your control, you could adjust your plan to reflect the challenges that have come up.
Don’t drop the plan unless it’s clear that there’s no real way forward for you. If you do have to drop your plan, this article shows you how to make a career switch.
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