Why You Should Have a Professional Development Plan
Changing careers, or even getting started on the career ladder if you have a job in mind, can be tricky however; especially if we chop and change jobs a lot throughout our lives. That’s why a professional development plan can help you sort through your experience, discover your goals and ultimately achieve them.
But realistically, not only are most people unsure of what career they want, but over 50% of UK workers want a complete career change . Climbing the career ladder can be difficult; from getting the skills and experience you need to just working out what it is you really want to do in life. As soon as we hit adulthood, whether we are studying or venturing into the working world, it appears we are somewhat thrust into a new world where we have to figure out what to do with our lives almost immediately.
1. Track Your Progress With Your Employer
Having a professional development plan means that not only can your employer see how well you’ve progressed throughout your career, but you can too. By building a portfolio of your achievements and planning ahead for the things you want to do in the future, you can easily set a plan in motion to ensure you – along with your employer – can reach your personal goals. Often in the workplace, there is a tendency to get complacent and then think “what have I achieved? Where am I going with my career?” And it’s this mindset that a professional development plan seeks to challenge.
Find what you love: As well as detailing what you have done/want to do, a professional development plan can help you realise what areas of your career you enjoy the most and would like to explore further, as well as the aspects you need to work on and skills you’d like to improve.
2. Keep a Record of Previous Employment
A professional development plan is also an easy way for new employers to know the skills you have, the experience you’ve gained and what you want out of a future role. As well as appearing very organised – which is a tick box on every employers list – it means that you can quickly and easily find out whether roles you apply for are suited to you. A resume is a great way to highlight key experience you’ve had; but a professional development plan extends to offer any future employers’ further insight into your goals and experience.
3. Get Rewarded for Your Work
Say you have been in the same job role for a few years. Along the way you’ve likely picked up a variety of skills, many of which may not have even have been part of your original job role. Well a few years down the line as business is booming, how do you approach your manager to ask for a raise or promotion? Simple; your professional development plan. It can be daunting asking to be rewarded for the hard work you’ve done and the results you’ve achieved, but having a professional development plan makes it so much easier. With a record to refer back to, your employer is likely to be reminded of your achievements and be more willing to reward you for your progress within the business.
4. Take Note of Extra Achievements
Whether you’ve taken an online course in accounting at Courses Online to further your industry knowledge or you’ve gained some voluntary experience at the weekend; all of these extra activities can be included in your professional development plan. Taking the initiative to construct a personal development plan is admirable in itself, and when you include extra activities you’ve taken on off your own back, employers will see your ambitious nature and additional skills you’ve obtained.
5. Achieve Your Goals
According to a Forbes study, people who write down their goals are between 1.2 and 1.4 times more likely to achieve them. Just by having a plan in place, you can focus more easily on your goals and how you can go about achieving them. A professional development plan organises your short-term and long-term goals along with deadlines and routes to progress, so you won’t get stuck either worrying about the small things, missing opportunities or going off track from what you want to do.
6. Creating Your Professional Development Plan
Here are the 9 key steps to creating your own personal development plan:
Work out where you are
In your career and in life, take note of where you are right now and all the responsibilities you currently take on.
Think about where you want to be
Whether it’s progression within your current career or a complete change, write down in detail where you want to be in the next year or 5 years.
Write down the key skills you've gained
Jot down all of the skills and knowledge you’ve gained from your current and previous job roles, work experience or education.
Identify your strengths
Pick out key strengths and skills you think you excel at.
Identify your weaknesses
Choose your main weaknesses which you think you need to work on.
Work out what's next: Create a plan of action
How can you get from where you are to where you want to be? What steps do you need to take and what help do you need? Develop of a step by step plan of action.
Work out desirable time constraints
Set realistic targets for yourself to obtain the skills and knowledge you need for your career progression.
Add in all the extras
Write down any extra things you’ve done for your job or education such as courses or voluntary work, to show future employers.
Monitor your progress
The key to a professional development plan is always to keep updating it and monitoring how you are getting on with your targets.
Aside from ever-evolving careers such as those in science and technology, many jobs don’t require or even suggest that employees have a professional development plan. Creating a professional development plan is usually up to the employee, and the benefits of having one are often undervalued.
Putting together your own professional development plan – along with your employer if possible – can help you set clear goals for you to achieve and ensure you develop your career the way you want which is both beneficial to you and your employer; and of course, it means that your hard work is more likely to be recognised and rewarded!