Last Updated on July 17, 2023

Are you looking to advance your career but not sure how to go about it? Creating a career development plan can help you map out your goals and identify the steps you need to take to achieve them. In this blog post, we will provide some tips on how to create a career development plan that works for you. Keep reading to learn more!

Tips to make a career development plan

1. Define Your Career Goals

Defining your career goals can help you to stay focused and motivated as you pursue the path that is right for you.

To get started, start by thinking about what kind of work makes you feel fulfilled and excited.

What are your interests, skills, and values?

Do you have a particular industry or field in mind?

Once you have a good sense of what you want to do, you can start to set specific goals.

Think about where you want to be in your career in the short term and long term.

  • What is your ideal career or job role?
  • Is there a certain company or industry that you really want to work in or for?
  • What are your salary goals?

Once you have a clear idea of your goals, you can start to develop a plan for how to achieve them.

Keep your goals in mind as you pursue your career. They can help you to stay focused and motivated, even when things get tough.

Keep exploring and growing, and don’t be afraid to make changes if you find that something else is a better fit for you.

2. Research the Industry for Your Chosen Career

Career business woman

ow you will need to spend time researching the industry and companies that you are interested in.

Essentially, you will want to discover and better understand exactly what kind of experience and qualifications you are likely to need in order to follow your desired career path.

To work out what skills you will need for a certain type of career or job consider doing the following:

  • Look at career websites and see what skills employees and job agencies list against your chosen career path.
  • Do a Google search such as by the term “skills you need to be an [work type here]”
  • Industry-specific publications can also be a valuable resource for researching careers. These publications often provide information about upcoming trends in the industry, as well as descriptions of different jobs and how to get them. Some industry-specific publications also include advice for people who are just starting out in their careers, including tips for interviewing, writing resumes, and networking.

3. Network with People in Your Chosen Industry

You will also want to start networking with people in your chosen field and attend industry events.

Networking is one of the most effective ways to build connections and relationships with people in your industry.

There are many different ways to network, but some of the most effective methods include attending industry events, participating in online forums and discussion groups, and connecting with people on social media.

a) Industry Events

By attending industry events and conferences, you can get to know others who share your passion for your field, learn from their experiences, and make valuable contacts that can help boost your career or business.

Attend conferences, trade shows, and networking events that are relevant to your industry.

If you were searching for education and teaching career leads, then you can find conferences and events in this sector by visiting:

  • Events Eye – a great site for finding events in any sector
  • Eventbrite – also for all types of events, workshops, and conferences.

b) Online Forums and Discussion Groups

Online forums and discussion groups are another great way to connect with people in your industry.

These platforms provide a place for professionals to share information, ask questions, and collaborate on projects.

Look for forums and groups that are relevant to your industry or field of expertise, and join in on the discussion.

c) Networking Via Social Media

These days, social media can also be a powerful tool for networking.

Follow industry leaders and influencers on Twitter or LinkedIn, connect with other professionals from your field, and share content that is relevant to your industry or profession.

This is a great way to build relationships with others who share your interests, knowledge, and expertise.

Talk to people who are already successful in your chosen profession or field.

4. Work Out Your Skills Gap

Developing your skills for your new career


Having completed steps 2 and 3 in this list (researching the industry and having networked with industry insiders), you will now have a list of what skills and experience you will need.

You will now need to work out your skills gaps:

  • Make a list of the skills, experience, and knowledge you need for your chosen profession or field that you presently lack.

By taking the time to evaluate your skills and identify areas where you need improvement, you’ll now be ready to seek out ways to fill this skills gap to begin to move closer to your goal.

5. Invest in Yourself by Taking Courses or Reading Books to Fill the Skills Gap

Take courses, attend seminars, and participate in other professional development opportunities to help you close the gap between your current skill level and the skills and knowledge you need for success.

Start by considering the following:

i) Certifications, Courses & Training

For certain careers, there will inevitably be the need to gain certain qualifications or certifications.

If your dream is to be a pilot for a commercial airline, then you will need to start doing your Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), for example.

Find out the requirements, i.e. to get signed up for the certification, and start studying!

Whatever it is you are interested to become career-wise, there is a course out there you can do to get started, to get on the right path.

ii) Self Study

In addition to attending courses (for a specific qualification), there is so much you can learn from reading books and journal publications on your chosen career.

By reading, you will begin to understand the discourse (terminology or way of speaking) surrounding your chosen career.

The way to become an expert in your field is to start thinking, talking, and understanding the field you want to move into.

You can check sites such as Udemy, and SkillsShare to find courses that you can study online as needed.

6. Set Timelines for Achieving Your Goals and Create a Plan of Action

Setting timelines for achieving your goals is an important step in the process.

By establishing a concrete timeline, you can create a plan of action that will help you reach your objectives more quickly and easily.

How much time do you really have to dedicate to achieving each goal?

Once you have considered what a realistic timeframe is to achieve the career goal, you can start then breaking it down into mini-tasks.

By breaking down the plan into lots of micro-tasks you will start to see progress quite early on.

In other words, break up your larger goals into more manageable tasks.

This timeline will ensure that you are working towards a specific target and not just aimlessly pursuing an objective.

7. Practice Using Skills that are Essential for Your Chosen Career

Practice using the skills that are essential for success in your chosen profession or field.

This could include things like:

  • public speaking – Toastmasters is an excellent way to learn public speaking skills
  • writing
  • leadership and management skills
  • computer literacy
  • communication skills

Keep your career development plan in your mind and keep pushing to develop the skills that will lead you to your ultimate goal.

8. Get Feedback from Industry Experts

Getting feedback from people who are already successful in your chosen profession can also be helpful.

They can help you to identify areas where you need more practice.

This can be one of the most valuable tools for improving your skills and knowledge.

To get this feedback, you might, for example, want to present at an industry conference.

Or if your dream is to be a university lecturer, for example, and you are already a teacher, write an academic paper to be reviewed by your peers, or invite someone in to give feedback on your teaching skills.

9. Re-Measure and Re-Plan your Career Path

Always remember that your career development plan is organic.

It is something that needs to be re-evaluated and tweaked.

Take a look again after 3, 6, and 12 months and evaluate where you stand.

10. Maintain Your Determination

It is always so easy to lose focus, especially as everyday tasks come up. We so often end up settling into a routine and the career plan goes out the window!

It is essential to stay focused and motivated and to do this I recommend:

  • Create a career mood board to remind you of your career goal and to help you visualize the career direction you need to take
  • Create a Visual Career Map and put it on your Wall
Dr Valeria Lo Iacono