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How to develop a career plan

Having a career plan is crucial whether you’re at the beginning of your journey, or you already figured out where you want your career to end up but don’t know how to get there. In other words, a career plan is a bit like a roadmap from where you are now to your career’s final destination.

It’s a document that lists career goals that are both short and long-term in nature, as well as the actions you might take to achieve them.

Remember that by plotting out the steps you should take, you can take an active role in shaping your future. Career-path planning allows you to think ahead in case obstacles arise. You’ll be able to determine which milestones you should target and lay out specific steps to help you reach them.

The following ideas will guide you in how to develop a career plan to move forward in your professional life.

Happy Woman At Computer

Keep your résumé updated

What is a career plan without a good résumé? You must be ready to strike while the iron’s hot when opportunities present themselves. In today’s world, that means you need to have an updated résumé on hand. In addition to keeping one as a PDF document, which you can send through email, you might also wish to keep one online through a platform like Bizfluence or LinkedIn.

No matter what phase your career is at, it’s a good idea to update your résumé at least once per year. Remember that there are services online that can help you write or update it. Additionally, you can download and use templates in some of the most popular word processors on the market.

Regularly set time aside for career planning

Even though we recommend making your career planning a regular event, that doesn’t mean it has to be often. Just as you should update your résumé at least once per year, you should schedule a time to update your career plan in the same manner. Many people prefer to do this in the final months before a new year begins.

Review your career path so far

It pays to reflect. You should take stock of your present position within your career and your actions that have led to where you are now. Are you pleased with how far you’ve come? Is there anything you could have done more efficiently? Are there things you would change if you had to do them all over again?

If so, see how you can incorporate the lessons you’ve learned from that hindsight into making your future steps more effective. By understanding yourself and your career goals in a deeper fashion, you can create a plan that’s tailored specifically to fit your lifestyle and objectives.

Use career-development opportunities

Identify and incorporate career-development programs into your plan. Ask the company you work for if it provides tuition assistance. Talk with managers to discover whether you can shadow them or other leaders in your company. Cross-train in different job types. Make lateral moves so that your chances of moving vertically increase. Also, think about finding and approaching someone who might be willing to act as a mentor.

Put down details in your career plan about how you’ll achieve these things. Be specific.

Think about what you need in a workplace

As your career moves forward, your desires and needs may change over time. Part of knowing how to make a career plan is knowing what to keep and what to toss out. Therefore, when you’re reviewing your plan, think about all the things you like and dislike about your workplace. If the negatives outweigh the positives, maybe it’s time to start moving toward your next milestone in a more aggressive fashion.

If your present place of employment is causing you to stagnate, it could be time to start looking at competitors for opportunities to rise. It might also mean that you should examine the possibility of starting a new career altogether.

Whatever you decide, you know that you want to be happy. Creating a plan that helps you down a path that you’re going to find continually exciting, challenging, engaging, and emotionally fulfilling is therefore essential.

Woman Working On Career Plan
Marina Andrejchenko/Shutterstock

Moving forward

Just as it’s a wise policy for entrepreneurs to have a business plan and for all companies to have a marketing plan, it’s prudent on the personal level to write out a career plan. At the beginning of your career, doing so can help you with everything from deciding on which classes you ought to take in college to figuring out what kind of internships, research, and extracurricular activities you should engage in.

Later on, it can help you decide if you’re even in the right career for you, and if you are, what steps you should take so that you advance in the quickest, most efficient manner possible. No matter what point your career is at, a career plan can help you avoid and overcome obstacles because you thought about them and possible solutions ahead of time.

Will Blesch
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Will Blesch is a copywriter, content writer, and someone passionate about anything that lets him discover more about this…
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