How to create a career plan?

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Until a number of years ago I’d never really thought serious about the direction my career was going in. Yes, I’d had to set a plan as part of my annual appraisal when I worked for an international company however, as far as I could see, no-one really took them seriously and I’d never considered a personal career plan; one aimed at where I wanted my career to go as opposed to where a company expected my career to go.

It wasn’t until we moved abroad that I realized the value of sitting down and creating a personal career plan. Some people talk about a one year plan, some 5 years and others a 10 year plan although initially mine was a plan that didn’t have a specific time frame (that’s something I’ve tightened up on since).

Without a plan, you don’t really know where your career is headed and that kind of works for a lot of people; until an obstacle gets in the way as it did for me and that’s when you suddenly realize that having a plan is not such a bad idea. A personal career plan is a specific approach to ensure that your career is going in the right direction and provides you with the opportunity to grow and do something you really enjoy.


Here are three steps that I followed to create my own personal career plan:

Assess your current situation

What is your job and do you enjoy it (or at least 90% of it)?

What job would you really like to be doing? Is it your bosses job or something completely different? Perhaps you are unsure?

If you are struggling to figure out what it is you want to do, begin by answering the following questions at the end of each day for around a month:

  • What did I have the most enthusiasm for today?
  • Was there any time today when I lost track of time and if so, what was I doing and what skills was I using?
  • What questions was I trying to find answers to today?
  • What issues really held my interest today?
  • Who was I today?

During this period of self discovery many people think that they should be able to identify one career that is right for them and I am often asked why I want them to come up with a Plan B.

The thing is, in today’s world of rapid change, having one plan may not be enough. We must always have alternatives in mind: alternative careers, alternative places of work, alternative styles of work, and alternative ways of earning an income, even alternative products/services to offer our customers.

With this in mind, I try to follow a similar approach to the authors of No One Is Unemployable:

  • try to develop up to 3 options or possibilities of what you would like to do (use the list of questions above to help),
  • create a list the pros and cons of each of the 3 options,
  • begin exploring the option that you believe ‘fits’ you the best.

There are no mistakes to be made here as taking time to explore one option at a time, even if the one  you ultimately choose to follow is not the first one you look in to, gives you the opportunity to learn more about that option, and about yourself, before you reject it.

Having a Plan B doesn’t mean that you still don’t know what the right career option is for you. What it means instead is that you are either better prepared for whatever may come your way in the future or are prepared to take a different role as a stepping stone toward your ideal career.


Once you’ve reviewed where you are you can start to set yourself some goals to help you get to where you want to be in your career. After deciding on your goal, start listing the steps you need to take to achieve it. This could be anything from reviewing your work achievements so you are armed with hard evidence when you go to ask your manager for a promotion or dusting off your CV so you can look for something completely different. Achieving each of these small steps brings you that bit closer to achieving your ultimate goal.

For example, you may want to make a complete change in career so your ultimate goal may be to be able hand in your resignation to your current job. Before you can do that, you will have had to assess just what it is you want to do, revise your CV, carry out research on possible jobs, decide on a job search strategy, apply for jobs, prepare for interviews and so on. Each of these is an action step that takes you closer to your ultimate goal of being able to resign from your current position; and each of these steps is an important part of a successful personal career plan and should be accompanied by realistic deadlines and rewards for meeting those deadlines in order to keep you motivated and working towards your goal.


This step is simple; just follow your plan as closely as possible. Of course, while implementing your plan, it is also important to monitor your progress as you go along and re-evaluate your goal from time to time.

There is a lot of truth in the saying,

“The time to begin your next job-hunt is the day you begin your present job”.

There is no such thing as a job for life anymore and I believe it is always important to be continually prepared to grab any opportunity that may come your way.

Be aware that in life not everything goes entirely to plan so while trying to follow your personal career plan, be prepared to have to work at it and around the obstacles that will occasionally get in the way.

I regularly work with clients who are either looking to change career or go back to work after a career break. I love being a part of their journey of self discovery as I help them try to figure out what it is they want to do and then create a plan for how to get there. Contact me if you would like to find out more!

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” – proverb


© Anne Galloway

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Anne Galloway is the Careers Consultant for those who want to put the fun and passion back into their working week. Find out how Anne can help you along your path to career success at


I am a Certified Advanced Resume Writer, Employment Interview Consultant, and Career Coach and it is my aim to help ambitious and motivated people like you become fully empowered to get the job you want.