7 Steps to Create a Good Career Development Plan

career development plan, example of career development plan
Learning Strategies

7 Steps to Create a Good Career Development Plan

A well-written career development plan can help a career person stand out in the labor market. It serves as a guide for one’s career life, outlining the individual’s career goals and the steps they need to take to achieve them. Hence, helps one organize their career aspirations, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and create a pathway for growth and success.

How does one create a development plan, and how beneficial can it be to a person’s career? Let’s discuss that in this article.

What Is Career Development Plan?

A career development plan, also known as a professional development plan, is a document that specifies an individual’s career goals as well as the steps that they need to follow in order to attain those goals. A career development plan assists individuals in organizing their professional goals, determining their strengths and weaknesses, and devising a plan for future development and achievement.

Why Is Having a Career Development Plan Important

Having a career development plan is important for several reasons, which include the following: 

  • Defining your future career path: A career development plan helps you assess your skills, identify what brings joy and meaning to your work, and steer your career along a path of significance
  • Taking charge of your advancement: By creating a career development plan, you become accountable for your actions and reactions in the workplace. It puts the power back into your hands and helps you position yourself for promotions and growth opportunities.
  • Identifying gaps and acquiring new skills: Career planning helps you identify areas where you need to fill gaps, whether through additional courses, certifications, or graduate school. It allows you to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to accelerate your career path and meet your goals.
  • Boosting transparency and trust:  A career development plan promotes transparency within the organization by showing employees what they need to do to progress and providing the resources they need for career growth. Hence, building trust and helping employees feel valued and supported.
  • Increasing engagement and happiness at work: Having a career development plan means viewing your work as more than a job. It provides a roadmap for your future, helps you make well-informed decisions about your career, and keeps you focused and motivated. Thus, with this sense of purpose and direction leads to increased engagement and happiness at work.
  • Maximizing your potential: A career development plan helps you grow professionally and personally. It sets goals for career growth, pushes you to gain new skills, and ensures you never lose motivation along the way. By following a career plan, you can maximize your true potential and strive for the career of your dreams.

The Benefits of Having a Development Plan

A career development plan is valuable for both employees and organizations. Here are some benefits of having a career development plan:

  • For Employees: Provides guidance and clarity for professional development, assists in setting expectations and goals, motivates individuals by connecting daily activities with long-term objectives, boosts engagement and contentment, and demonstrates the organization’s commitment to employee growth and development.
  • For Organizations: Supports workforce planning and talent management. A career development plan helps identify training and development needs within the organization. It also increases employee retention by helping them achieve their career goals within the organization. When put in place, it further enhances employee performance and productivity, building a culture of continuous learning and development

How to Create a Career Development Plan For Yourself

To create a career development plan for yourself, you can follow these steps:

Step 1: Determine Your Field of Interest

Start by identifying the specific field or industry you are interested in pursuing. You should consider what kind of work you love and prefer and why you are drawn to it. Doing this will help you clarify your goals and develop a vision of your desired career path.

Step 2: Identify What Your Goals Are

You should set clear and specific goals that align with your long-term career aspirations. When doing so, consider both short-term and long-term goals to provide direction and motivation. Also, ensure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound). Setting goals will help you stay focused and track your progress.

Step 3: Assess Your Skills and Current Position

Evaluate your current skills and qualifications to determine what areas to improve or develop further. Look for gaps between your current skills and the skills required for your desired career path. This will help you identify where you need to focus your efforts.

Step 4: Research and Gather Resources

Explore the resources available to support your career development. This can include educational programs, professional development opportunities, mentorship programs, and networking events. Utilize these resources to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for your career goals.

Step 5: Create a Career Development Plan

Develop a step-by-step plan that outlines the actions you need to take to achieve your career goals. Break your goals into smaller, manageable tasks and set deadlines for each. This will help you stay organized and focused on progressing toward your objectives.

Step 6: Implement and Adapt

Start taking action on your plan and work towards your goals. Be open to trying new approaches, making revisions as needed, and seeking guidance and support. Regularly assess your progress and make adjustments to your plan as necessary. This will help you stay on track and adapt to changes in your career journey.

Step 7: Track Milestones and Celebrate Achievements

Keep a record of the significant stepping stones and successes you reach along the road. This will assist you in maintaining your motivation as well as recognizing your success. You should be proud of your accomplishments, no matter how minor they may seem, because they add to your overall professional growth.

What Are the Types of Career Development?

The  types of career development are:

  • Organization development: This career development focuses on planned organizational changes and increasing organizational effectiveness. It is managed from the top of the organization and involves bringing about planned changes to improve the overall functioning of the organization.
  • Employee development: Employee development programs aim to enhance the skills and knowledge of individual employees. These programs help employees acquire new skills, improve existing ones, and develop their potential. Employee development can include training programs, workshops, mentoring, and coaching.
  • Management development: Management development focuses on upgrading managers’ skills, knowledge, and abilities. It aims to improve their ability to guide and lead employees at different hierarchical levels. Management development programs can include leadership training, management courses, executive coaching, and mentorship programs.
  • Career development: Career development concerns the growth and advancement of an individual’s career. It involves planning and managing one’s career path, setting goals, acquiring new skills, and seeking opportunities for advancement. Career development can include career planning, skill development, networking, and seeking promotions or lateral organizational moves.

What Are the Key Stages of Career Development?

The key stages of career development are:


This stage involves self-reflection and understanding one’s values, strengths, and weaknesses. It is about gaining awareness of oneself and what one can offer in the workforce. This stage typically begins after completing education and entering the workforce.


In this stage, individuals explore and research various career options. It involves networking, talking to professionals, and conducting informational interviews to learn about different career paths. This stage can be characterized by confusion and being overwhelmed by many options. However, maintaining a positive attitude and an open mind can lead to discovering unexpected opportunities.


Once a career path has been identified, the preparation stage begins. This stage involves setting development goals and acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge for the chosen career. It may include formal training, independent study, or gaining experience through projects outside one’s regular role. Development plans with specific milestones can be created to guide progress in this stage.


In the commitment stage, individuals clearly understand what they are meant to do and are confident in their career choice. It is a stage of focus and energy where individuals strive to achieve their career goals. This stage may involve increasing responsibilities and staying updated with industry standards.


The retention stage is characterized by feeling comfortable and established in one’s career field. Individuals have gained experience and knowledge and may focus on maintaining and advancing their careers. This stage often involves continuous learning, updating skills, and staying current with industry trends.


Feelings of discomfort and uncertainty about the future mark the transition stage. It is a stage where individuals make conscious changes in their career direction. This may involve switching careers, pursuing new opportunities, or adapting to changes in the industry. It is important to embrace change and be open to new possibilities during this stage.

Career development is a lifelong process, and individuals may move through these stages multiple times throughout their careers. The stages are not necessarily linear, and individuals may revisit previous stages as they gather more information and align their career decisions with their goals and life circumstances. It is a personal journey, and each individual’s path may vary based on their unique circumstances and goals. Hence, It is important to approach career development with self-awareness, curiosity, and a willingness to learn and adapt.


A career development plan is crucial for individuals to define goals, control advancement, acquire new skills, increase transparency, boost engagement, and maximize potential. It benefits employees, organizations, and talent management by setting expectations, motivating individuals, enhancing performance, and supporting talent management.


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