You may be out of work, unhappy in your job or wanting to advance or change careers. Why not get on track to a rewarding future with a professional development plan?

Developing a plan is a great way to focus on what you want to be, where you want to be and how you’ll get there. It can remove the stress of feeling overwhelmed and stop you from wasting energy churning ideas over in your head with no clear outcome. It’s a sure-fire way to map your career ambitions.

Remember this famous quote by Benjamin Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

Developing a plan takes a bit of time and commitment, but it’s manageable and doable. It’s also powerful so let’s get started.

  1. Download a template

Email face2face Recruitment and ask one of our talent managers for our free professional development plan template: Marietta@f2frecruitment.com.au

  1. Decide what motivates you at work

List your top three motivators in one sentence each. Is it money? Community service? Public service? Breaking new ground? Seeing results through exemplary project management? Stress free work that let’s you live life to the fullest outside of 9-5?

Read these three articles for stimulation:

Does your work fuel your passion?

Cultural fit or more money in your next job?

Job or career. Which do you have?

  1. List your strengths, where you need improve and opportunities

Focusing on strengths, areas needing improvement and opportunities helps determine steps to take for your dream job. If you’re not a detailed person, for example, but like the idea of project managing a complex project, you may have the opportunity to take project management courses online to develop your skills. If you’re strong at negotiating, you might want a job requiring you to work with stakeholders to secure deals of value to your company.

Don’t make an extensive list. Four strengths, four areas needing improvement and four opportunities will get you focused.

  1. List what’s stopping you from growing professionally

Determining the barriers stopping you from growing professionally to identify what you need to break down. Barriers could be:

  • time
  • money to pursue professional development
  • lack of enthusiasm
  • never stopped to think about making a plan
  • confusion over what to do.
  1. Determine what your top three professional goals are

Ask challenging questions to determine your top three professional goals. Here are sample questions:

If I had a choice right now, what would I want to do? What path will get me there?

Is money a key driver?

Do I want to advance up the corporate ladder?

Is moving sideways in my organisation an interesting move?

Do I want to leave my industry for something radically different?

Do I want to become a manager of a large team?

  1. Flesh out your top three professional goals

List actions to get to each goal; timelines for getting there; how you’ll measure your progress.

Your development plan may be that you want to leave your retail role and move to an administration role.

Action: Complete a Certificate III in Business Administration, allocating four hours per week to study.

Timeline: Complete online course by October 2020.

Measurement: Successful completion means I will have professional office administration skills to help keep teams organised and business operations running smoothly.

  1. Conduct research

Head online and even conduct interviews with experts to learn.

Who’s the best in the field or position you want to be in? Read what experts say. If you want to be a Chief Executive Officer, for example, determine three CEOs you admire and head to their web pages or social media channels to learn about the language they use, how they position themselves and their aspirations. This will motivate you.

If you’re looking to change from blue-collar to white-collar, reach out to friends and see what they’ve done.

Conduct a recruiter to help you understand the importance of transferable skills and how to highlight them in your resume.

  1. Consider who to rely on for help

It’s great to take a stab at an initial draft of your professional development plan, but sometimes you’ll need help to finalise it or implement it.

List those who can help. Asking these types of questions will guide you:

  • Do you have (or want) a mentor? Are they available to help? How will you approach them?
  • Do you have (or want) a coach? Are they available to help? How will you approach them?
  • Can you ask your boss for support? Your HR department?
  • Do you have professional colleagues you can brainstorm with?
  • Do you want to talk to an expert recruitment agency to help you think laterally about opportunities? Our services are free for jobseekers across Australia. Read how a recruiter can support:

Looking for work? Why not use a recruiter?

Choosing an award-winning recruiter

Final tips

Don’t procrastinate on your professional development plan or be afraid of the process.

In a great article on career ambitions, the Harvard Business Review says determining your ‘from/to’ is essential for professional growth process:

“If you want driving directions from Google Maps, your app asks you for two pieces of information: your current location and your desired location. The more precisely you enter each coordinate, the more likely you’ll get where you want to go using the fastest possible route. Your growth process should follow the exact same path, clearly specifying where you are today and your preferred destination.”