Determining a Career Development Plan

What Is a Career Development Plan?

As the name indicates, a career development plan is a plan used to develop your career. By creating such a plan, you form strategies to manage and advance your work life. Although you cannot predict the future or control every aspect of your career, a career development plan will help you take positive steps toward shaping your working life and will help you avoid a career path that is determined entirely by outside influences.

Determining a Career Development Plan

There is no single career development plan that works for everyone. Furthermore, because lifestyles and professions change (and since people change as well), career plans also change. With this in mind, you should create a career plan that works for your profession and lifestyle. Once your career plan is in place, you can review if it is working or not by comparing the goals in your career plan to your actual career accomplishments. Doing this will help you determine if your career development plan is helping you shape your career in the ways you want. If your goals and accomplishments do not relate to one another, you can change your career plan or create a new plan altogether.

What Should I Do before Creating a Career Development Plan?

Before developing a career plan, you need to find a career that suits you. A number of resources are available to help you do this. Libraries offer books, journals, and software on finding a career, and websites have job postings and information about the variety of jobs and careers available. A visit to a career counselor can also help you determine what interests you. Using aptitude tests , personality assessments, and personal interviews, a career counselor can help you discover what you do and do not want in a career.

Determining a Career Development Plan

Aptitude test: A standardized test designed to predict an individual's ability to learn certain skills.

After finding the type of career that interests you, you should begin to apply for jobs within that field. If your job search is not successful,

When looking at careers, it is good to know what the potential career development paths might be for advancement.

When looking at careers, it is good to know what the potential career development paths might be for advancement. ILLUSTRATION BY LUMINA DATAMATICS LTD. © 2015 CENGAGE LEARNING®. Ready to Work: Job-Driven Training and American Opportunity, July 2014, 21.

you might want to consider looking for jobs that interest you in different fields or different geographic locations. You could also seek additional education or other types of training to increase your chances of finding a job in your preferred profession.

How Does Self-Assessment Relate to Career Development Plans?

Once you find a career that interests you, the research and planning continues. In fact, career planning is an ongoing process that can help you

The National Career Development Association (NCDA)

Choosing to hire a career counselor to aid you in career development planning is a big step. A visit to the website of the National Career Development Association ( ) can help you evaluate your options. Founded as the National Vocational Guidance Association in 1913, the NCDA is a professional organization for career counselors. It works to provide professional development to its members and to ensure that the profession maintains high ethical standards.

There are several ways that the NCDA website can assist you as you consider career counseling. The site offers a frequently asked questions page and information that can help you decide whether the services of a career counselor would benefit your career development planning. It also offers links to other websites that provide information about related topics such as self-assessment, employment trends, and researching potential employers.

If you decide to hire a career counselor, the NCDA site allows you to search for an accredited career counselor in your area. The site connects users with both master career counselors (MCCs) and master career development professionals (MCDPs). An MCC holds a master's degree in counseling and can administer personality and career assessments. An MCDP holds a master's degree in career development, human resources, or a related field. Both types of career counselors can help you build your career development plan.

consider how internal and external factors influence your career. Internal factors come from within yourself, such as your personality and skills, while external factors result from outside forces, such as your boss's personality or the location of your job. An assessment of your career development plan can also help you determine if these factors have changed throughout the course of your career. For example, a career plan assessment may show you that certain aspects of your career interest you more than they once did.

You provide important internal influences on your career. In Managing People (2009), Phillip L. Hunsaker and Johanna S. Hunsaker observe that self-assessment is a vital part of developing your career plan. By studying yourself, you learn about your interests, strengths, weaknesses, work methods, and work environments. According to the Hunsakers, this knowledge allows you to be proactive and to anticipate and prepare for situations instead of just reacting after they occur.

A career development plan can be a useful tool for anyone attempting to progress through a specific career path. It helps you to analyze your current career, figure out where you'd like to be and how you can get there, and how you

A career development plan can be a useful tool for anyone attempting to progress through a specific career path. It helps you to analyze your current career, figure out where you'd like to be and how you can get there, and how you will assess your development. ©ISTOCK.COM/FOTONEHRU.

By conducting regular self-assessments, you can see how you change as the years go by. These periodic studies will help you to determine whether your current personality and actions are helping or hurting you in your current career and whether they will help you progress to the next steps in your career plan. Knowing this information will help you decide if you need to make further changes to yourself or if you need to change your career plan.

How Does Time Relate to Career Development Plans?

In addition to studying your strengths, weaknesses, and work environments, you should consider other factors. In Management Fundamentals: Concepts, Applications, Skill Development (2012), Robert N. Lussier writes that you should consider time when creating a career development plan. He notes that you should set objectives you want to meet in one year, those you want to reach two to five years from now, and objectives you want to meet in the long term.

When analyzing each set of objectives, you should question if you have the resources you need to accomplish them. Do you have adequate training to meet these objectives? If you do not, can you attend a school or participate in a training program? You should also ask yourself if your work environment helps you attain these goals. Are there changes that you can make to your position or to your work environment to help you succeed?

These objectives can help you identify and address changes you want to make in your career. For example, you decide that you want to work in a managerial position in the future. In order to demonstrate that you would be a good candidate for management, you might take more responsibility in your current position. By offering to direct projects or lead meetings, you would likely strengthen your current position at your workplace while preparing yourself for future career opportunities.

How Do External Factors Relate to Career Development Plans?

You should also be aware of external factors that could influence your career. External factors are those that you do not create and typically cannot control, unlike internal factors, which come from your own personality and skills. External factors can include your coworkers’ personalities and the actions of your customers and competitors. For example, consider the other people at your workplace. Do coworkers and managers at your workplace help people accomplish their goals? If not, can you make use of other resources, such as online career resources or friends at other companies?

You could also study whether your current job will help you meet your future career objectives. If it does not, can you make changes to your current job, or would it be more effective to take a new job? Will your job and company exist in the future, or will it succumb to competition? These questions will help you decide if you need new training or need to consider a new job or field.

Another important consideration is your lifestyle. Do you want to structure your career in a way that allows you to spend more time with your family? Do you want to retire from your current career in a certain number of years so you can start another career? Do you simply wish to retire and focus on other interests? All of these questions will help you to consider the internal and external factors influencing your career and determine the resources you want to invest in your job.

What Are Some Other Factors to Consider When Creating Career Plans?

Other careers, such as those in the field of medicine, require substantial amounts of education and training. Doctors typically earn a bachelor's degree and a medical degree. Following their degrees, they participate in a years-long residency during which they receive specialized training. After that, they sometimes participate in fellowships. If you are considering a profession that requires substantial training, you should remember that you might have to devote a great deal of time and money to your training before you begin your official career.

What Government Resources Can Help Me Create a Career Development Plan?

Determining a Career Development Plan

Although planning a career can seem daunting, there are a number of government-affiliated organizations that offer online help with career planning. For example, the state of Indiana's Department of Workforce Development offers a tool called a virtual career counselor (VCC) on its website ( ). This tool can help you figure out the length of time you would need to train for a new career.

), the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) provides helpful career planning tips, and through the online MyCareer@VA service, the VA helps military veterans plan and find careers. The website also offers other career help, such as tools to help create résumés as well as online educational courses.

Other government organizations and programs can help you plan and assess your career and business online. In Canada, the government-affiliated Info Entrepreneurs website ( ).

Although accessing career services online is convenient, many government organizations also offer in-person career help. The state of Michigan, for example, offers the Michigan Works! Association. By visiting 1 of the organization's 25 offices, you can receive help in determining the appropriate career for you as well as information and advice on how to plan for it. The Michigan Works! Association also provides job search assistance. Other states offer similar organizations, such as the state of Indiana's WorkOne and the state of California's CalJOBS.

What Other Resources Can Help Me Create a Career Development Plan?

Determining a Career Development Plan

The Internet can be a very useful tool in creating your career development plan. Search terms such as “create career plan” will bring up numerous websites that relate to career planning. These sites typically include worksheets that allow you to create and write down your plan, tips to help you create a career plan, career assessments, suggestions about education and training, information about certain careers and career fields, tools for creating cover letters and résumés, links to job boards, contact information for career professionals, and other types of useful information.

Career counselors and business coaches can also be good resources when planning a career. If you are a student in a college or other program, check to see if your school has a career planning department. These departments often have counselors and career planning materials. If you are looking for help with planning your career and your life in general, you might want to consider hiring a life coach or a visiting a psychologist. These professionals can help you determine what you want to do with your career and your life.