Career Plan Templates

Career Plan Templates

Career Plan Templates

Updated 13 November 2020

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Career planning is a useful exercise that allows you to take control of your future by:

  • Assessing your current situation, including your skills and qualifications
  • Understanding the path of your desired career progression
  • Deciding what steps you need to take to achieve your career goals

Developing a career plan will allow you to regularly check that you are still on the right path, especially if your status, needs or wants change.

Why Do You Need to Write a Career Plan?

You may have all the intentions in the world to plan ahead for your career but until that plan is written down, it can be vague and easy to forget.

Writing it down, or typing it into your computer, solidifies your plan and provides a useful document to refer back to as your goals are achieved or if they change.

You may find that there are factors, such as certain skills you possess or the salary you need to live, that you have not truly considered until you begin to build a career plan.

Psychologically, writing down your career plan also signals to your mind that your plan is important, creating the motivation you need to succeed.

For more advice on career planning, read Career Planning Tips.

Steps to Take Before You Write Your Career Plan

Before you can build your career plan, you first need to know:

  • Where you are
  • Where you want to go
  • How you can get there

Where You Are

It may be difficult to decide on a future path if you do not know your current situation.

This can be an extensive assessment so be prepared to put aside some time to gather all the information you need.

Questions to ask include:

  • What qualifications do you have from high school, college or university? What in-job courses have you passed, for instance, health and safety, first aid or management skills? Have you completed an apprenticeship? Perhaps you attended courses for some other purpose, such as a hobby. Write it all down whether you feel it is relevant to your career or not.

  • What work experience do you have? Again, write down all of your work experience regardless of whether or not it seems immediately relevant to your future career. It may be that work experience with no apparent link to your desired role reveals suitable skills.

  • What skills do you have? You may be surprised how many skills are transferable to the workplace. For instance, taking part in the school athletics team suggests teamwork skills. Running a YouTube channel of book reviews points to social media, communication, and perhaps even marketing skills.

  • What responsibilities and living needs do you have? Are you a parent or carer? This may mean that there are certain hours when you are unavailable for work. For instance, if you have a young child and need to be with them at night, you will not be able to work a night shift. How much money do you need to pay your bills and feed your family? Look not only at the bare minimum but also consider what salary would provide you with a comfortable lifestyle. Do you need flexible working arrangements such as remote working or flexi-time?

  • What are your likes, dislikes and personal beliefs? This part of the assessment is about your personality. Do you work best in a team or on your own? Do you need to be based at your employer’s site to be motivated or can you motivate yourself to work from home? Are you competitive and driven? Are you creative? Do you enjoy a regular routine or are you happier working on different sites and projects? Are you a detail-oriented person or an overview person? Your personality can play a large part in which jobs are right for you. For more information on assessing how your personality might affect your career choice, read Personality Tests.

Where You Want to Go

This may be:

If you are starting out as a school-leaver or graduate, landing your first job will be paramount in your career plan for the short-term future. You may already know what job you want to land or you may still be undecided. Whichever of those two apply, research is always your best next step.

If you already know your ideal job, your research will cover:

  • The full extent of what that job entails
  • Salary range for an entry-level role
  • Career progression, for instance, analyst to associate to director in investment banking
  • The best employers and locations for that role, including company culture and staff benefits
  • Job vacancies
  • Your suitability – are there any gaps in your qualifications, skills or experience?

For expert job search advice for graduates, read We Asked the Experts: What Are Your Top Tips for Graduate Job Seekers?

If you have not already decided what job you are interested in, this is the time to match all of the information you have gathered in your initial assessment (education, work experience, skills, personality, responsibilities and life needs) to specific roles.

For instance, you have a degree in computer science. This could lead to a digital marketing role, a programmer role or a database administrator role. Which of these would best suit other aspects of your current situation and who you are?

Once you have decided on a role or industry, carry out the research outlined above.

To find out how employment may be affected by future developments, read Top 10 Best Jobs for the Future.

If you plan to change career or progress to a more senior role, then your research may include:

  • Availability of your ideal role (best employers, locations, job adverts)
  • Gaps in your current qualifications, experience and skills
  • How you can bridge those gaps, for instance, gaining a qualification or working in an entry-level role in that industry first

Maybe your career plan is to achieve a specific salary for a number of years and maintain the related employer pension contributions so that you can retire with a comfortable income. Your research will therefore focus on how much you need to earn, for how long and which employers can provide this for you.

How You Can Get There

Whichever situation you find yourself in, you need to understand how to build a bridge that will take you to your ideal career and life destination.

With the help of your assessment (where you are) and your research (where you want to go), you should now be in a position to identify the steps you need to take to achieve the desired career progression.

The next step is to write down your career plan.

Career Plan Templates

How to Write a Career Plan

Your career plan will vary depending on your personal situation, but generally, it will include the following sections:

Introduction

This section contains three pieces of information:

  • Your name
  • Current date
  • Current status (for instance, high-school leaver, graduate or your current job title)

You might wonder why you should enter your name when you are probably the only person who will see this document. The reason is purely psychological – ownership.

In the same way that writing down your career plan will motivate you to take action, writing down your name will claim this plan as your own and strengthen your resolve.

Each career plan should be dated so that you have a starting date for your goals.

Your current status provides a starting point. This is where you are now. Imagine the feeling of accomplishment when you can change that to your new ideal title.

Personal Overview

Who are you and what do you want? This section includes your drives and skills, and lays out the career progression you want to see.

For instance:

“I am a driven, self-motivated computer science graduate seeking an entry-level programming position with an organization that offers a clear path of career progression.”

Or:

“An enthusiastic team worker with excellent communication, negotiation and social media skills looking for a mid-level marketing role in a forward-thinking organization that rewards its staff with a competitive compensation package.”

This personal overview is similar to a resume objective.

To find out what this is, read How to Write an Objective for a Resume.

Education

You already collated this information in your previous assessment (Where You Are).

Write that down here.

Work Experience

Write down all your work experience in this section, even if it does not seem relevant to your future career aspirations.

Goals

This is where you will write down what you want to achieve. Break it down into:

  • Short-term goals – to accomplish over the next three to six months
  • Mid-term goals – up to two years from now
  • Long-term goals – up to five years or more from now

Each goal should be accompanied by the steps you need to take to accomplish that goal, and any gaps in experience or education that need to be addressed. Set a deadline for each goal and step. Leave space for progress notes on each goal and step.

For instance, your short-term goal may be to land your first job after completing your graduate degree.

Steps could include researching your ideal employers, building a resume and attending a careers fair.

Read Careers Fairs to find out how they can be a useful tool for graduates.

A mid-term goal might be to move from being a team member to the supervisor of that team. Where you need managerial experience or an extra qualification to land that promotion, what steps would you need to take to bridge that gap?

Be reasonable about how much you can accomplish in one year. Avoid overloading your career plan with too many goals and steps.

Bear in mind that your career plan is for twelve months, so you may not accomplish all of your goals in that time. However, you can keep track of which steps towards that goal you have completed.

Career Plan Template

CAREER PLAN

Name:
Date:<br< Current Status:

Personal Overview:

Education:

Work Experience:

Goals:

Goal 1: (with deadline)

  • Are there any gaps in experience, skills or qualifications? If so, what?
  • Steps to take to reach goal (with deadlines):

Goal 2: (with deadline)

  • Are there any gaps in experience, skills or qualifications? If so, what?
  • Steps to take to reach goal (with deadlines):

What Happens Next?

Now that you have assessed your current situation, where you want to go and how to get there, you can take the first steps to reach your goals.

Return to your career plan regularly throughout the year to check on your progress.

As you achieve each step or goal, tick it off your career plan, accompanied by supporting notes. If you find that extra steps are needed, add them to your plan.

At the end of the one-year period, make a full assessment of your career plan so that you can set up an amended plan for the next twelve months.

Your assessment should include:

  • Is your status the same? For instance, are you in the same job as twelve months ago or have you landed your first job as a graduate?

  • Which steps and goals have you completed? Remember to celebrate your successes.

  • Which steps and goals are outstanding? Why is that? Are your outstanding goals realistic? Has your employer’s organization changed in a way that has hindered your career progression?

  • Where you have completed a goal, do you have a new related goal? Write it down along with the steps needed to reach your new goal.

  • Are your goals still relevant to your career progression and the industry you work in?

  • Have your life needs changed? For instance, with a new baby do you need a higher salary or the ability to work from home for part of the week?

  • Have you decided to follow a different career and hence need a completely new career plan?

Final Thoughts

Whatever your personal situation, writing down a career plan will put you in the driving seat of your career progression if you are willing to put in the time, research and effort required.

By Fi Phillips Fi Phillips