Developing an effective personal career plan


wooden blocks spell planA personal career plan helps you determine your skills and interests, what career best suits your talents, and what skills and training you need for your chosen career. By developing a career plan, you can focus on what you want to do and how to get there. This article will provide you with hints and tips on how to create an effective personal career plan.

Long term and short term goals
  • Long term goals – The key to successful planning is having a long term vision. Having a clear idea of where you want to get to is the best start. What is your long term goal? It might be anything from; changing career, where you eventually want to be on the career ladder, or simply securing a role.
  • Short term goals – To keep yourself motivated you need to work out some milestones. They might be skills based, salary based or responsibility based. Achieving these milestones or short term goals will help you to stay motivated.
  • Commit to the process – It is important throughout this process you have the right attitude. You must be focussed, motivated and willing to make that commitment to achieve your goals.
Understand where you are now
  • Identify what motivates you, your preferred environments and role - make sure it is somewhere that will hold your interest long-term, and suits your preferred life style. Think about what the most important things in your next role are? (e.g. salary, location, culture, challenge, working hours).
  • Know your personality, interests and values - You need to consider your interests and values not just in a working environment but also from a personal perspective. Utilising tools such as psychometric tests will help with this. They can quite often suggest environments your personality is best suited to, or types of organisations your values would fit best with.
  • Identify your skills - You can use things such as your CV, past job descriptions, psychometric assessments and colleagues and friends to help you. It is important to focus on the skills and your strengths you most enjoy, not just the ones you are good at. Also think about any specific achievements from your most recent role, past roles and outside of the working environment.
Know your options

Once you have identified what motivates you the next step is to ensure your skills and competencies match your chosen career path. You will need to fully identify and understand what competencies are required in order for you to move onto the next level and succeed at that level. For example does your desired role need analytical reasoning and commercial awareness or does it rely more on strong communication skills and leadership qualities? Some of these you will be stronger at, but others you may not be, so now is the time to start focussing on improving in these areas. The more you begin to recognise where your strengths lie, and where you need to improve, the more attainable your career path will become.

  • Research skills and qualifications required - Start off by researching basic information on each career path such as job descriptions, employment statistics, job outlook, earnings and educational and training requirements. You need to remember that market conditions will always impact on how quickly and to what extent you can achieve your plan.
  • Use your network - Specific people in your network will be able to give you inside information on a specific career. Use your friends and family, past and present work colleagues, managers and social media networking sites such as LinkedIn. Expand your network through joining groups. Additionally you can talk to people through networking sites or even set up informal interviews and meetings with your contacts to find out more.
  • Consider all your options - Continuously scan your environment for development opportunities. Keep your end goal in mind as it makes it easier to spot exciting opportunities that come your way both inside and outside of your organisation. This will help you ensure that you do not feel trapped and keeps you positive and focussed.
Set your goals and write them down!

As soon as the vision you have for yourself is clear, set yourself short and long term goals to help you get there. Use the short term goals to help you break your plan down into manageable chunks.
Your goals should be SMART:

  • Specific – Goals must be clear and well defined
  • Measureable – Ensure you are able to quantify your progress so you can track your goal
  • Achievable – They need to be reasonable and achievable – the research will help you with this
  • Relevant – Ensure you believe that your goal will be achieved and that it is consistent with your other short and long term goals
  • Time-based – Must have a clearly defined timeline
Review and chart your progress

Remember there is more than one route to get where you are going. Make sure that the goals you set and the milestones you noted at the beginning are not forgotten. Keep them to hand and refer to them frequently. No performance review, appraisal or career conversation should go by without direct reference to your career plan. This way you will take advantage of the development opportunities that come along.

Renovo is one of the UK’s leading providers of outplacement and career transition support. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you please call 0800 612 2011 or email

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