Why You Need A Career Plan & How To Get One!

career plan template

Download the best career plan template here!

Do you have a personal career plan?

Well, you need one!

You will probably work for numerous employers and may even transition careers during your working life. A career plan ensures your skills remain relevant, that you stay stimulated, and you achieve continued job satisfaction.

Career planning is the identification and implementation of long and short-term career goals. There are many factors to consider when developing a career plan. After 15 years of working in Human Resources, I have created the secret formula to develop a robust personal career plan.

A good career plan isn’t a ‘wish list’ of jobs, but rather a working document that explores various options, including your personal skills, experiences, dreams, and ambitions.

A great career plan anticipates external influences such as life events, changing personal circumstances and environmental factors such as the economy.

Career Plan Template

Download this robust career plan template that has been developed using 15 years’ experience as a Human Resources professional.  



There are 8 elements that turn a career plan from a ‘wish list’ to an achievable working document.

Review where you are now

Write a description of where you are in your career now. You may be a recent graduate and just starting out, or you may be 10 years into your career and looking to advance.

You can start career planning at any stage in your career, the trick is to be realistic about the current career situation and give as much detail as possible.

Identify your strengths and opportunities

Complete a self-assessment of your strengths and opportunities by asking these questions:

What are you good at?

What do you get praised for at work?

What do you enjoy doing?

What are your weaknesses?

What do you struggle with at work?

Where do you need further development?

If you find it hard to give yourself an honest evaluation, it can be helpful to ask a colleague for their honest feedback on your job performance, strengths, and opportunities.

Write your career ambitions and dreams

This is the fun part. What does your dream career look like? What type of work would make your heart sing? What are your ambitions? What is the end destination for your career? What direction would you like your career to head? Write all this down.

Look at potential environmental factors that could affect your career in the future

This is what turns a career plan into a great working document.

Businesses regularly conduct external scans to identify potential threats to profits and business growth. By taking this concept, and applying it to your career plan, you can better prepare yourself for external threats that could impact your career. This could include things such as economic downturn, changing technologies, or dying industries and professions.

Once you identify potential threats, brainstorm what you can do to protect your career. For example, if you are in a profession that is declining, how can you transition your skill set into a new profession?

Identify special life events that could impact your career in the future

If you plan for changes in your personal circumstances, you can minimise the impact they have on your career. For example, you may plan for a career break in the future to start a family or you could plan to follow a dream and relocate to a different state or country.

By identifying these life changing events, you can include them in your career plan and keep your career on track.

Describe where your career will be in 12 months, 3 years, 5 years, and 10 yearscareer plan infographic

This is the guts of the career plan. Decide where you would like your career to be at various points in the future. Include position titles and even companies you would like to work for.

Don’t forget to factor in the impact of special life events and environmental factors that you already identified in the previous steps.

Research experience and qualifications needed to achieve career ambitions

Once you know where you want to be in 12 months, 3 years, 5 years, and 10 years, you then need a roadmap to know how to get there!

For each milestone, record the experience and qualifications you need to transition into that role and the action you can take to make it happen.

Review your career plan every year

A career plan isn’t a ‘set and forget’ activity. It is an ongoing process of reviewing, updating, managing, and taking action. Your career plan should be reviewed and updated every 12 months to keep it relevant and focussed. 

This is a flexible document. Even though you are planning 10 years out, you need to keep an open mind. As your career progresses your ambitions will change and new opportunities that you couldn’t predict may open up.

Be adaptable and review your career plan regularly. That way you can seize opportunities as they arise while keeping your career plan relevant and useful.

Get your copy of the BEST career plan template here!

It follows the secret formula I have developed after nurturing careers for 15 years as a Human Resources Manager.


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