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How To Create A Career Plan in 7 Easy Steps

How To Create A Career Plan in 7 Easy Steps - Headway App

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One of life’s biggest and toughest decisions is deciding what you want to do as a career. Therefore, creating a career plan can be a fantastic way to ensure you are on the right path to achieving your ambitions. To clinch that dream job, you must have a sturdy plan to help you get there. But what exactly is a career plan, why is it important, and what steps do you need to take? This article covers all of this to help you create a foolproof career plan and get you on the road to success.

Key points

  • A career plan is a series of steps that you can take to achieve your work and career ambitions. It can help you determine what actions need to be taken to realize your professional goals. 

  • A career plan is important because it helps ensure your career is on the right track. 

  • The steps to forming a career plan include identifying your career options, comparing them against your skills, establishing SMART goals, and, eventually, creating your career action plan.

  • Additional tips include keeping your resume up to date, expanding your professional network, and growing your skills.

  • Headway is an EdTech startup concerned with self-improvement and growth. Explore Headway today to browse 15-minute book summaries and daily insights to foster self-growth and build upon your skills to help launch you toward your ideal career.

What is career planning? - Headway App

What is career planning?

A career plan is a series of steps that you can take to achieve your future work ambitions. By creating one, you can determine what fields to focus on, substantiate long-term goals, and form a strategy for a successful and fulfilling career. A career plan helps lay out your next steps to get you where you want to be in your professional life.

Developing a career plan can be beneficial at any age. Of course, it is recommended that you have a good idea of what path you wish to take and how you want to get there by the time you finish school. However, career plans can be useful even if you are no longer in education. Whether you have just graduated, are looking for a career change, or want that elusive promotion, a plan can help ensure your goals and actions are aligned. It can afford you a chance to reflect on your career and see what you would like to change or develop in the future. Indeed, a career plan can even help you gain new skills and expand your knowledge in specific areas. 

Why is it important to have a career plan?

First and foremost, a career plan is a smart way to check your career is on the right course. It can help you understand what you are truly passionate about. It can also assist you in realizing your career goals through simple steps and actions. By evaluating your current career path, you can identify deficiencies in your experience and knowledge that could stop you from reaching your professional goals.

Why is it important to have a career plan - Headway App

How to make a career plan: 7 steps to success

Now that we have highlighted what a career plan is and why it is important to create one, let’s get stuck in with the seven steps you need to take when forming your career plan.

1. Identify career options

The first step in any career plan should be to decide what career path you would like to follow. To do this, it is prudent to consider what skills you have and what you enjoy doing. One great way to identify career options is to consult with friends and family about their work — such as how much they enjoy their careers and what qualifications are required to do their jobs. 

It can also be valuable to research the industries and companies that interest you. For instance, seek out networking events, subscribe to industry-specific newsletters, and schedule interviews to explore various careers. 

You can narrow down a list of potential careers by conducting thorough research into different careers and considering your interests, skills, and values. To help inspire you, below is a list of several industries that you may wish to consider:

  • advertising;

  • communications;

  • education;

  • human resources;

  • retail;

  • technology.

You can streamline your list further by participating in volunteering, internships, and work shadowing. It is also smart to consider growing job markets, such as those with increasing positions available or with the average salary improving. Take the time to do your research and pinpoint potential career options.

2. Prioritize your career options

Once you have identified career options, you should prioritize the items on your list. To help do this, ask yourself important questions, such as:

  • What matters most to you?

  • What are your values?

  • What industries are you most interested in?

  • What are your strongest skills and abilities?

  • What is a deal-breaker for you?

Bear in mind what soft skills you possess as well. These are traits and behaviors you have that could make you especially suited to a certain career. For instance, if you have a caring nature, a career in nursing may be an excellent choice. It is a fantastic idea to write down a list of your values, skills, and interests to help substantiate what you are looking for.

3. Compare your career options against your skills

The next step is to compare your list of potential careers against your values, skills, and interests. This can help you see which possible careers align with you personally. By following this step, you can ensure that you choose a career path that will match your core values and fulfill you. At the end of the day, a job may pay well, but what’s the point if you do not enjoy it? Moreover, comparing options against your skills allows you to determine whether a certain line of work would require additional education. 

4. Evaluate other factors 

Your list of potential careers should gradually be getting smaller by now. But, it is vital that you also consider other factors, not just personal preferences. Below are some additional factors that you should take into account:

  • Qualifications. Find out what qualifications or licensing are needed to enter a given field. Establish whether you will need to receive training or perhaps gain additional education. If more qualifications are required, how will this affect you personally and those around you?

  • Demand. Work out how much current demand there is for a career. If the demand is low, is it still worth pursuing, and is it ultimately worth the risk?

  • Salary. You should also ensure that you understand what salaries apply to different career paths. This can be done online, where you can see the average wage for certain positions. When doing this research, you can also see what salaries are like in various locations to see whether relocating would be a smart move for your career (and financial) health. 

  • Benefits. Think about what benefits a career offers you, such as the chance to travel or generous holiday time. This is crucial as it will impact your overall happiness. Substantiate what benefits are most important to you and see what industries offer these benefits.

  • Hours. What are the general working hours in the careers on your list? For instance, if you are seeking out a nine-to-five job, retail is probably not the best choice for you. 

  • Commuting. If you are considering a certain career, what is the commuting time? Is it still a viable venture if it takes you more than an hour to get to a place of work? 

  • Weaknesses. Remember to think about your flaws and try not to feel negative. Identifying weaknesses can prove to be the springboard for growth. Perhaps you are not quite qualified for a promising career option, but identifying this can allow you to work on gaining that required qualification and put you on the right track. Everybody has weaknesses. Just remember that identifying your own is a strength. 

5. Settle on final career options

By this stage, you should be confident in selecting your ideal career path. You can select numerous paths, but narrowing your paths down to just one or two is recommended. This way, your job search (and school applications, if needed) will be more focused and straightforward.

Settle on final career options - Headway App

6. Establish SMART goals

Pursuing a career often takes many years and numerous steps. Therefore, an action plan can help guide you on your chosen career option(s). It is a good idea to monitor your career progression over time. A great way to do this is to separate your career steps into small, trackable goals. 

Use the SMART goal methodology to help you through each career step and set some short-term and long-term goals. SMART goals ensure that your professional aims are attainable and time-dependent. The best approach is to allow yourself a difficult yet reachable timeframe. SMART stands for the following:

  • Specific: Identify your goal in detail. For instance, completing a nursing course.

  • Measurable: Ensure you have clear criteria in place so you can measure how you are progressing in terms of your goal.

  • Attainable: Set goals you know you can attain within a certain time. It should have at least a 50% chance of success.

  • Relevant: Consider whether the goal is relevant to you and if it can improve your career. For example, the goal of learning how to play an instrument is not relevant to a nursing career path.

  • Time-bound: Set a timeline for your goal. This can help with motivation and gives you a better idea of how long it will take to reach your desired job position.

7. Form your career action plan and keep it updated

Now you have established your goals for your chosen career path, write down and form your career action plan so you can refer to it. Create a list of actionable steps that you can take so you can see what you are working towards (and what you have already achieved). It helps to keep you organized and gives you a real sense of accomplishment when you complete each step. 

Your career plan may need revision at some point, which is fine. Your priorities and aims may adjust, or new opportunities may present themselves, requiring a reshuffle of your timeline or overall goals. Keep your career action plan up to date so you can monitor any changes you make. 

Additional tips to help build your career 

Before we conclude, we offer four extra tips and ideas to help you on your career path.

  1. Keep your resume updated: Ensure that you constantly update your resume with the latest certifications, job positions, and achievements to make it as strong and accurate as possible.

  2. Expand your professional network: You can build your professional contacts by taking some initiative. For example, attend conferences and professional new work events. You can also create a LinkedIn profile and connect with people who work within your field of interest. If you want to learn more, check out our blog post on the best books on networking.

  3. Grow your skills: By improving skills that complement your career goals, you can stand out against others and display that you are keen to learn and grow.

  4. Get first-hand experience: This could be an experience you get through volunteering or an internship that can help you learn about companies. You can also gain valuable knowledge about your chosen career path. Plus, it can be a great way to hear about any upcoming job positions.

Build your skills with Headway 

If you are reading this article about career plans, chances are you are someone who is very focused on their goals and eager to succeed. But, to obtain a great career, it is important to identify your skills and work towards developing them. An effective way to do this is to read books about careers and gain invaluable insights. However, if you are motivated and career-focused, you may be too busy working and not have the time to read up to further your skills. If this is the case, Headway is the place for you.

Headway offers bite-sized learning to help you grow on the go! We offer 15-minute book summaries, book lists, daily insights, personally tailored features, and more. This way, your work will not get in the way of learning and growing. Our flagship product is the Headway app, which can be used on the go and allows you to work on self-growth while having fun simultaneously. If that isn’t convincing enough, the app recently entered the top five most downloaded apps on Google Play in the Education category in the USA.

So, if you strive for self-improvement and want to build upon your skills, explore Headway today and hone your skills to get one step closer to the perfect job for you. 


How do you write a career plan?

Following the step-by-step guide in this article on making a career plan means you can ensure you have an airtight plan in place.

How do I plot my career path?

The best way to plan your career path is to consider your interests, values, and skills. Then, compare these with possible career options and see what ones best line up. 

How do I set a career target?

The best way to set a career target is to use the SMART goal methodology and set achievable and time-dependent goals. These should include both short-term and long-term goals.

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