Advancing your career doesn’t take a crystal ball, it just takes motivation, determination and following a few key steps to make a successful career.
There may be a few challenges on the road to getting to where you want to be in life, but there are strategies that can turn those challenges into success stories. Women are present in today’s workforce more than ever before, hold more executive positions and even own their own companies. Nothing is beyond your reach if you work hard enough. Making a plan and devising what works best for your life and lifestyle in order to reach your goals is the first step to seeing your dreams become a reality. You must first identify your goals. Where do you want to be in 5 years? What will it take to get there?
Creating a career development plan will help you to map out how to reach the next stage of your career.
Download a free career development plan template here.
Your Career Development Plan
There are 7 areas of your career development plan:
- Job position / Title – This defines your current role as well as your targeted goal title (within 3 to 5 years)
- Goals – The career development plan template breaks goals into three categories – short-term, mid-term and long term. Goals should be S.M.A.R.T.
- Short-term goals are critical to your current position.
- Mid-term goals will help you to achieve growth within two years.
- Long-term goals are relevant to career changes in the next three to five years.
- Skills / Competencies – This is where you will highlight your current strengths and competencies. What skills are integral to your career and will help to ensure success?
- Gaps – Identifying gaps in your current skillset helps you to focus on where you need to improve. What skills are you lacking that will be necessary for career growth?
- Resources – In this section you can outline the specific resources that are available or will need to be acquired in order to achieve your goals. This can include experience, formal education, training, certifications, or mentorship.
- Action Items – Be specific about the actions you will take to utilize identified resources. Input target dates to help keep you on target.
- Status – Review your career development plan regularly and keep track of your accomplishments. Keep note of new skills or experience acquired, training completed and achievements gained.
Download a career development plan template.
In addition to creating a defined career development plan, there are a few key factors that can contribute to your career success.
Develop your own brand
Develop your skill and market yourself. Work to be the best at whatever you do. It’s never a good plan to jump from job to job or from skill to skill. If you want to be a great retail or restaurant manager, start by being the best salesperson or waitress. Make sure you and your skills are visible to your supervisors.
Ask for advice
Never hesitate to ask for advice. Learning from other people’s mistakes could save you from your own. Listen to those who may have already walked in your footsteps and be open for change. Ask others where they think you should improve. If you ask for advice from a supervisor, be proactive and positive and then implement changes to prove you are a top performer.
Be confident and persistent
The more confident you appear, the more confident you will become. Others will see that confidence. Practice expressing yourself clearly. Ask the important questions and speak slowly. Fast talkers usually don’t get their ideas across, and they appear nervous. You will appear more confident and your ability and authority will be noticed.
Find a mentor
As you reach your career goals, you will be held accountable for your choices and the quality of work you produce. It is important not to misstep along the way because it will slow down your career path. Find a women’s network or organization that helps and mentors women. A mentor can help you to organize, advise and support your plans, goals and successes. Build a network with other professionals who are also working on a successful career path and support each other with ideas.
Never give up
Be persistent. Never give up on that job you want or on that promotion you are after. Things take time, but if you are prepared to meet your goals, they could happen quicker than you realize. Navigating yourself to a great career in today’s world is not impossible. You can do it, and following your own plan will make you a force to be reckoned with.