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How a career development plan helped my career sky rocket


Career development plan – ever heard of it?!


No, I thought not.


It took me until about 5 years into my career to hear about this and I think it was a huge contributor in getting me to a director position so quickly. This should be a living and breathing document which you are constantly updating and shouldn’t just be a tick box exercise. It allows you to get super clear on what you want and enables you to articulate that to others (which can sometimes be half the battle!).


I truly believe the success of our careers lies in our hands and although we can benefit from being in the right place and the right time, it is up to us to go after what we want and make it happen. I think this is something as women, we struggle with. However, if we want to change things then each of us need to practise vocalising what we want and having a plan behind us to make it happen. The revolution and change has to come from within.


This framework helps you to define what sets you aside (your unique selling points), what you are looking for and what you know you need to do to get there. You can then use this to support discussions you should be having with your network for them to support you to get to where you want to go. You can also get a gauge from your network on whether there is anything else you should/could be doing to put yourself in a better position to achieve your career goals.


Well what is it I hear you ask!


A Career Development plan is a one stop document which details out who you are, what your career goals are and what you are doing to get closer to them. Below I detail out each section


Your goal


Everyone needs a career goal if you want to excel in your current expertise or to move up the ranks of an organisation. Your goal should detail what you want to achieve; making sure its specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and specific (SMART). You also need to make sure you include a specific timeframe. An example might be – to become a director within customer experience in 12-18 months with a global remit.


About you


Here you want to include your name and current role. You then want to detail out a short, snappy bio which needs to be an elevator pitch. This should include a short description about yourself, your skills and what makes you unique. An example could be – strong product director who has the drive to succeed…


Next you want to include education (degree level if relevant – if not I’d leave off). You then want to include a career summary of your last 3 roles in laymans terms so an outsider would understand. This should be very short.


Current skills/knowledge/experience


You should aim for 6-8 bullet points here which demonstrate your knowledge and experience. This should be the big ticket items that set you aside from others. An example here could be – lead a team of 12 direct reports across 3 continents, managed a £6m budget


Development areas


As humans we tend to shy away from vocalising what we aren’t good at. This part is not to be treated in the same way as the answer to the interview questions “what is your biggest weakness” which you try and spin to a positive – “I’m a perfectionist and always do a great job”


You need to be honest here (within reason obvs), about what you know you need to do to reach your career goal and to open up with your network on whether there is anything else you should/could be doing.


These areas should also be specific and measureable and on your 1 pager they should be brief. E.g. improve as a project manager. You should then break that down into a few focus areas e.g. become proficient in MS project and then an action plan which you should be weaving into your weekly to do list to make sure you are making traction on it. Examples of these might be do MS project training, find a buddy who is an MS project expert and meet weekly, research hints and tips for MS project. Your action points should then be ticked off as you go through to show progress.


Career development planning is something I go through in much more detail in my female talent development program ‘Elevate’. If your company is looking to unlock their female talent’s power to achieve their potential and level up their organisation and employees – then please get in touch.


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