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How to Develop a Personalized Career Plan

Actively taking the time to work on your own career plan is an excellent way to work on your career goals and work towards the next steps of your career journey.‍

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A well-defined career plan takes time, effort, and research. No matter what stage of the game you're at, taking the time to work on your own career plan is an excellent way to establish your professional goals and start you on the next steps of your career journey.

Whether you are just starting, or you have years of work experience and are looking for a career change, defining your career goals will set you up for short-term and long-term success!

Make Career Planning a Priority

Crafting a career plan should not be approached with a "one-size-fits-all" or "one-and-done" mentality. It's something that requires time and attention. Mapping out the steps to success will help you create a framework that you can refer to throughout your career as you develop and make professional advancements.

Our Recommendation: Schedule at least a couple of hours a week dedicated to exploring your professional interests and career options.

Identify Your Career Options

Lateral vs Sequential Job Moves

What's next? While planning your career journey defining any lateral or sequential job moves will help you work toward your ultimate career goal.

A lateral career move is when you leave your current role for a new job of a similar title, position, and/or pay grade. This career move generally helps build well-rounded skills.

Making a lateral move in your career is a great way to learn new or build upon existing skills, meet new people, or improve work-life balance. Don't think of a lateral move as a bad thing or stagnating your career. Recent studies have shown that 8 in 10 female senior business leaders have made a nontraditional career change - like a lateral move throughout their career which would later lead them to their senior role.

A sequential move in your career journey is one that usually involves a promotion that will move you up to the next level in your career. Promotions are typically awarded to employees for good performance, and they usually involve more responsibilities, a pay increase, and sometimes a certain level of management. If you feel as though your skills are ready for the next role, look for opportunities that give you the chance to grow, level up in your career, and ultimately climb the career ladder.

Our Recommendation: Check with your association if they offer career resources such as career pathing to help visualize the potential next steps in your career journey.

Take Time for Reflection and Self-Assessment 

After doing some research on what career opportunities are available and what career move is right for you, take time to assess where you're at in your career.

At this point, you should reflect on your likes and dislikes and how it pertains to the type of career you want to pursue and the environment you want to work in. Be sure to also examine some of the reasons behind your sense of happiness and success.

Our Recommendation: Create a list of your likes and dislikes regarding current and past jobs, then use this list to examine your career path and what are some must-haves.

List Your Current Skills

If you scroll through any job description, you'll be sure to find a "Qualifications and Skills" section. Employers across all industries are looking for sets of both soft and hard skills when seeking out potential candidates.

Listing out your skillsets for both soft and hard skills will not only help you see what roles you're currently qualified for but also help you determine any gaps that you may need to fill to take the next steps in your career.

Additionally, listing out your skill sets will help you when you're updating your resume!

Our Recommendation: Don't forget to list out you're weaknesses. Consider your weaknesses as opportunities for growth! Build upon your current skills and work towards any goals or certifications/qualifications you've been pushing off.

Keep an Up-To-Date Resume

One of the most important steps in planning for the future of your career is to be ready to jump on opportunities as they present themselves. Regardless of your industry or career level, learning how to write an ATS-friendly resume and keeping it up-to-date is a terrific annual exercise.

Our Recommendation: Spend at least one to two hours each month looking at areas on your resume in need of improvement. For example, you may have received a promotion or completed a new certification or continuing education course. Be sure to add these accomplishments along the way.

Explore new education and training opportunities

Never pass up on opportunities to learn and expand your career knowledge - after all, knowledge is power. An essential part of career planning is seeking out training opportunities, courses, or workshops that will help you further your career. 

There are plenty of free or paid-for certificate programs and courses, right at your fingertips! If you’ve identified certain areas in your current list of skills that seem to be lacking, consider taking training courses that will further your skills. Investing in your career will show potential employers that you’re serious about your career and also willing to put in the extra effort to grow and learn.

Our Recommendation: Many organizations and associations offer career resources such as continuing education opportunities at a reduced cost. Consider taking an online course on-demand through Udemy, Coursera, or Skillshare to not only fill in some of those gaps, but also propel your career forward. 

Regularly reviewing and planning will make you better prepared for whatever lies ahead in your career, regardless of where you are currently. Actively taking the time to work on your own career plan is an excellent way to work on your career goals and work towards the next steps of your career journey.

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