A career action plan can be considered a blueprint outlining where you want to go. It’s a comprehensive list of your career goals and organized steps to achieve those goals. If you are just starting out on a career path, whether new to the workforce or switching to a new profession, developing a career action plan is a necessary first step toward achieving professional ambitions. Moreover, this type of plan allows you to lay out possible barriers to achieving those goals and proactively sort out solutions before problems crop up.
- Choose the career that is right for you.
Self-assessment tools can help you organize your strengths, interests, values, and personality to narrow down some career possibilities and fields that may suit you. Editing a long list to between 10 and 15 career choices is an excellent place to start. Then you can further narrow the field according to what intrigues you and seems possible. Next, choose from around three to five options by assessing job opportunities, educational requirements, earnings, benefits, and growth potential. The final choice should be the one you enjoy doing and can support your lifestyle goals, whether family, homeownership or travel.
- Assess education, training, and skills
Create a thorough analysis of your education, career experience, and skillset to determine which assets you already have for your chosen career and highlight which skills you need to improve upon to achieve your professional objective.
- Create long-term and short-term goals
Long-term goals will include the completion of advanced degrees and programming, but short-term goals can be as simple as applying for an internship, talking to a headhunter or HR representative, or networking at events supported by a business you hope to work for. Breaking down the long-term goals into a series of short-term ones is a great way to build momentum toward the overall goal-getting your dream job.
- Pre-emptively identify possible roadblock
By workshopping problems ahead of time, you allow yourself the flexibility to regroup. Something like having a grant fall through on your education will be catastrophic if it prevents you from getting the degree you need to fulfill your career goal. Taking the time to list a few alternative forms of payment, even lining up a small personal loan, will prevent a considerable delay in your long-term goals and waylay the stressful panic such an event would otherwise cause. Some roadblocks, however, are bigger than others, and if an obstacle is impossible to overcome, you must be able to re-assess your career action plan to suit reality.
Your career action plan should be a well-organized document that includes all the information gathered in the steps above. List all goals, a reasonable estimate of the time it will take to achieve them, and created a bulleted list below each goal with the steps it will take to attain that goal. This should be something you return to regularly, so it should be easy to read and understand. There are no hard and fast rules for formatting, provided you can and do use it.