How to Create a Plan That Works For Your Career Goals

Career development plans, in the past, were outlined for an employee by the employer. Employees began employment in an entry-level position and, with increased seniority and additional training, worked their way up through the organization. Career development plans work differently today. Unfortunately, many organizations no longer outline it. Career development plans are up to each of us individually. So how can we create our own career development plan?

This question reminds me of a job I had in which I was required to travel across the nation setting up city-wide seminars. I drove a semi-truck to cities throughout the nation loaded with all of the equipment and materials for conducting the seminars. I set up for the seminars and became the Seminar Assistant Coordinator for the week. Headquarters sent out a staff of five employees who did this. We covered 35 states and averaged 3-10,000 people at each seminar.

It did not take long to notice there were holes in the communication between the “field” staff and headquarters. I was constantly missing information and materials needed. Because I knew the field process and had developed relationships with the staff, it was not difficult for my boss to say “yes” when I approached him about a new position for myself that would give support to the field staff in conducting these seminars. I had identified the problems and knew how to change and correct them because I had lived through the process. Those in the field easily backed my suggested new position because they needed the support and wanted the process to run more smoothly. They knew I could get the job done. This new position came about because I saw a need and had a solution.

I created a new department (Seminar Support Services) and grew the support staff for this Department to 8 employees. So where is the opportunity for career development in your position or at your organization? It lies with you and your creative resources and your observations of what needs to be done. What are your creative resources? The most important is what you enjoy doing!

Here are four career development plan perceptions that will help identify how to jump start your career:

Career Development Plan Perception #1 – Be a resourceful employee.

Find ways to create opportunities but at the same time solve a problem or create value to the organization. As you develop more challenging work for yourself and succeed, your worth to the organization increases. This gives you “the right to be heard” when performance and salary increases are discussed.

Career Development Plan Perception #2 – Know how the organization feels about you and your work.

Always be open to communication and initiate it. If needed, meet with your boss on a monthly basis and talk about your development. For example, ask if you are still on target in your development plan or what things need more work to keep your development plan on track. Stay in charge of your career development. Always ask what you are learning from the position, organization, and experience. If you do not feel you are moving forward, then you are probably losing ground.

Career Development Plan Perception #3 – Do not get too comfortable.

Even when a position is easy and comfortable for you, if it is not a good fit for your success patterns, you are settling for less. Do not settle for less than you can do or accomplish. I have a friend who says that if she is not in an uncomfortable situation, then she is not growing or learning. So she constantly puts herself in uncomfortable situations such as attending a networking event alone. If you get complacent about your work, the organization will do that too. Find a culture that energizes and challenges you.

Career Development Plan Perception #4 – You have been in the position so long now that you do not care about it, or about how you look when you show up for work.

In fact, winning the lottery is your way out of this dead end job. BEGIN TO TAKE AN ACTIVE ROLE IN YOUR CAREER AND LIFE! (Yes, I meant that to be in all caps!) If you are in this situation, start writing your exit plan and start exploring other ideas and opportunities.