Planning your career goals and pathways is a useful exercise to do and even more valuable in times of change and uncertainty. An Action and Development Plan is an essential resource to guide your career progression and help you to create effective career goals.
A successful Action and Development plan should include:
- Clear career goals and what you need to do to reach them
- Personal Development goals and how you’ll achieve them
- Realistic timeframes
- Regular revision and updating
An Action and Development Plan doesn’t need to be fancy or overly formal. Its purpose is to provide you with guidance and support to achieve the career goals you’re seeking.
Another essential part of your Action and Development Plan is to include people who can help you in your career and personal development journey. While a lot of the progress is dependent on your actions, having the right people around you to provide support when needed is vital.
1. Plan your career goals
The first step of a successful action plan is to sit down and think about your ultimate career goals (it’s ok to have more than one).
An excellent way to think about goals is to use the SMART framework. Is the goal;
Make sure that any goals you choose are purely for you and not influenced by outside people or pressures. Adding this discernment to the process will ensure you’re as self-motivated and committed as you can be to achieve them.
Feeling stuck? Consider where you see yourself in one year, five years, or ten years. Give yourself permission to think big about what your career and work-life looks like for you at these future points. If that seems daunting, then try working backwards from ten years to today. Taking a long-term view can give you guidance as to what you really desire from your career.
2. Create a career action plan
Once you’re clear on your goals, it’s time to put the career section of your Action and Development Plan together.
A career action plan is an individualised plan designed to help you organise your goals and outline what steps are needed to accomplish them.
A career action plan is most useful is you have a good idea of what their career goals are, but need some more clarity and guidance on the steps you need to take to get there. It’s a great tool to enhance motivation and prevent feelings of being overwhelmed.
Your career action plan should outline:
- Your goals and a timeframe for each
- What professional training you’ll complete
- What professional training can be completed in your workplace
- The people who can support you to achieve your plan (such as mentors, co-workers, and managers).
Here’s an example:
Goal: Acquire a management role within my current industry in the next three years.
Action: Complete a professional qualification (a Diploma of Leadership and Business Management is a well-rounded option suited to most industries).
Action: Take on more responsibilities in my current role, volunteer to lead projects, etc.
Support: Career expert, learning coaches, direct manager or senior mentor at work.
3. Focus on personal development
Personal development is the second half of your Action and Development Plan. Just as important as defining your career goals, personal development is about working on the soft skills that make you stand out amongst other applicants and co-workers. It also makes you a more well-rounded person.
The difference to a career action plan is that personal development planning solely focuses on you and your skills. Such skills include communication, public speaking, empathy, teamwork and time management.
These two plans are different, but complement each other and form collaborative parts of your overall Action and Development Plan.
4. Find your support team
Ultimately the Action and Development Plan is your responsibility, but having the right support around you is vital to your success. Make sure to include the people who can help you through each stage in your plan.
Examples of people who you could reach out to for support and guidance are:
- Mentors from current or past work
- Friends and family
- People who are currently working in your dream role or industry
5. Allow for revision and review
The final step in creating your Action and Development Plan is to allow for revision and review. You need to check in regularly with your plan to ensure that you’re making progress that is in line with your timeframes and that your goals are still relevant to where you want to be in your career.
You may find that as you manoeuvre through the process, that your plans begin to change. You may want to focus on a different industry altogether or perhaps a different role. Checking in and reviewing your plan can stop you from wasting time working towards outdated goals. A mentor or coach can be a vital sounding board here.
An Action and Development Plan is an important tool in your career planning process and shouldn’t be overlooked. Doing this career planning process step by step will help you get clear on what you’re after from your career and how to get there faster while enjoying your work too.
An important step of your action plan to always consider is the ability you have to upskill with a qualification, and gain in-demand practical knowledge and skills to set you up for a successful career ahead. Diplomas are an excellent option for those looking to further their career. A sound diploma option applicable to any industry is a Diploma of Leadership & Management (BSB51918). Skills that you acquire from these respected qualifications are relevant to a variety of industries and give you broad career outcomes. You also benefit from polishing up your personal development skills, making you stand out in the recruitment process.
Need more guidance? The team at College for Adult Learning are experts in career planning and can help you decide which diploma option is best suited to you and your career goals.