Developing a career plan
Setting out a career plan can really help give you a sense of direction, and also help you expand your range of choices. And not just when job hunting, but throughout your career. Here is our suggested ten point step-by-step guide for how to write a career plan. The idea is to make sure you get the most from your work, but also to make sure you only apply for jobs you really want, and which really suit you.
- Assess your goals and priorities. Not just immediate ones, but where you want to be in five or ten years. What changes might happen in your personal life, and how will the job you are doing affect them? What work/life balance do you need? How important are factors like pay, hours, location and job satisfaction?
- Write down your career objectives. Your career is a journey, and something you build as you go through life. What do you want from your next job? Are you looking to build certain skills, or add to a track record, or move into something completely new?
- What jobs suit your skills. Be honest with yourself. What parts of your existing or previous jobs have you been particularly good at? What areas are you qualified or experienced in?
- Seek advice. You do not have to do all this alone. Friends, family, trusted colleagues or careers advisors will all help. Or try the internet for careers advice. Perhaps visit the NHS Careers website for advice and ideas?
- Analyse your plan so far. In steps 1-4, you have pulled together all the information you need about yourself. You should by now have built a fairly comprehensive picture that you can use to match against job specifications or to help with your search and your job applications.
- Consider your options. Now it is time to assess what moves might help you meet your objectives and priorities. Consider the potential careers or types of jobs, whether those are available in the organisation or department you are with, or whether you need to be looking elsewhere.
- Consider any gaps in your skills. There may be certain qualifications or skills you need that will help you find the career move you are looking for. What are they, and how can you get them?
- Set goals. Now you are combining the information in steps 5, 6 and 7 to create a series of realistic goals for yourself. These could include promotion, training, qualifications, learning new skills, changing organisation, or even changing career. Use these goals to measure how you are doing, and you will feel a sense of achievement as you tick each one off.
- Plan for marketing yourself. Once you have set goals, you will have a clearer idea of what you need to do to achieve them. This will include looking for the right opportunities, and creating the most suitable CV and letters for each different opportunity.
- Re-evaluate. Plans change, priorities change. You may be setting your goals higher, you may learn new skills which change your goals, or new avenues may open for you. Wherever life takes you, change your career plan to reflect this.
You will also find plenty more careers-related advice on the NHS Careers website.
You may also like to read our articles on 'Searching for the perfect job' and 'Writing your application form'.