Creating a well-thought career action plan is the 4th step enlisted in the career planning process. This step arrives after the completion of self-assessment and a thorough examination of all the possible careers options you came across during the self-assessment phase. Next from all the selected professions, you must vigilantly choose the one that is the most appropriate and fittest match for you. The career planning process is dual-oriented and ongoing, which gives you the freedom to jump back to the previous steps given you are not satisfied with the acquired information and feel the need to conduct additional research and reevaluate your alternates.
What is a Career Action Plan?
Once a profession is clearly identified, an action plan should be developed. Generally speaking, a career action plan also termed as an Individual Career Development Plan (ICDP) is a roadmap stating the points and map of, for instance, A to B—where A is selecting a profession, while B is actually gaining an employment in the chosen occupation. The map can also be extended to include C, the career progression phase.
As per Individualized Career Plan Models - Eric Digest No. 71, ICDPs are important tools used by career counselors in helping their clients/students in recognizing and changing their goals, interests, and preferences, to stay abreast of the changing trends in the competitive corporate environment. Even though the plans are ideally made and used by the professionals counselors themselves, but you can too create a plan for yourself.
Even after hiring a professional to create the plan for you, then also you have to complete some work from your side. If we talk about long-term goals for instance, you have to set them yourself, the counselor will only help you in better understanding them and the strategic steps required for their accomplishment. Any developed action plan is not definite, as it can be changed over the course of time as career progresses, goals and priorities change, occurrence of geographic differences, etc.
So now let’s examine how to fabricate a well-acknowledged career action plan. Develop a worksheet entailing four sections, and here is how we can complete it.
1. Employment History/Education and Training
The ‘Employment History/Education and Training’ should go as the title of the first section in worksheet. This ‘Employment History’ part is quite self-explanatory, where you need to list the jobs you had till now in a chronological order. Add the location of the firm, your designation, and the dates of tenure.
When you will start creating your resume, the information included here will make it very straightforward and convenient to complete. Same applies for the next part, education and training. Enlist the schools you attended, the dates of terms, along with the degrees, diplomas or certificates and credits you acquired. You can also add any further professional licenses or courses you had gained. Next, add any voluntary or unpaid work you had done, for example, a 2-month contribution at a rehabilitation center. You will come to notice that many of the facts you just added relate to your professional goals in some way or other. By any voluntary work or social contribution, you may have strengthened your management skills within limited resources and time.
2. Self-Assessment Results
The next section on the worksheet will be entitled as ‘Self-Assessment Results’. If you hired a professional career counselor to assist in your self-assessment and provide the concluding results, use the results to list professions that were suggested to you in the assessment stage.
You might even need to connect the information you garnered when you studied those careers to aid you in exploring them deeply at a later time.
Obviously, after coming across a plethora of occupations, you worked to narrow down the list to contain one. This was the highly sought-after profession you were most excited about. The list may even contain a couple, one profession for a short-term, while the other one pertaining your long-term plans and goals.
Obviously both the professions should be related, with the short-term occupation acting as the career ladder’s rung for the long-term or primary one. For instance, acquiring SEO and content marketing skills can be practiced for a couple of years or more, just to get you ready for a rich digital marketing managerial job.
3. Short- and Long-Term Goals
Entitle the next section as ‘Educational and Occupational Goals’. Both the goals are closely correlated, as in most cases, your professional goals are mightily dependent upon the completion and success of your educational goals. Differentiate your short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals have a span of mostly 6 months to 1 year, while long-term goals lasts from 3 to 5 years. However, the definition and time duration of both vary from industry to industry. For better evaluation of long-term goals, you can split the progress on annual basis only to make the assessment and keeping tab much better. For example, consider a student opting to pursue MBA and then find a nice living, here is how the breakdown of his/her long-term goals can be done.
• 1st year—complete all the pre-requisites and core courses of management sciences
• 2nd year—complete the electives and start the thesis
• 3rd year—go hard and complete the thesis to mark MBA completion
• 4th year—hunt and start working at an executive level position at a digital marketing agency (in case you have a Marketing specialization)
4. Hurdles to Reaching Goals
Never believe in the fact your progression for goals will go seamlessly without any encountering any hurdles. It’s all about ways to counter them without diverging your focus. In this 4th and final section of career action plan, list as many hurdles you can think of that you expect to hinder your growth sooner or later in future. Next, come up with strategies to fight them. For instance, you may have the sole responsibility to provide financial and moral support to your parents and siblings as the only able family member, which could potentially hamper the timeframe and success ratio of your ambitions and other goals.
A well-versed and detailed career plan is a very powerful tool to help you in various phases of life and professional career. You have gone through the career planning process taking your time and considerations, only after finalizing all the dos and don’ts of the chosen career. Devising goals and planning how best to accomplish them will realize the extent of your hard work and what it took to acquire your long-desired ambitions and career ascendency.
Ranar Jones is an experienced writer and consultancy provider of career selection and development. His highly informative articles offers the best advices for students as well as for experienced professionals. He is currently working as career counselor at an institute that offers online life experience degree and has helped numerous people to improvise their career growth.