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What is a Career Development Plan and Why do I need one? 6 steps to build yours!

Updated: Feb 5, 2023

Career development matters because a career means so much more than the salary, security, and benefits we get from a job. A career affects what we can become and contribute, and who we impact in the pursuit of our work. To speak about career development is to speak about what your career means over your lifetime. Your career is a process that continues indefinitely; purpose, meaning, gratification, and passion are found not only in the result but are present in the pursuit of work itself.
Co-ordinator, Career Counselling Services, Dalhousie University, NS

Do you find purpose, passion, and meaning in your work? A career development plan will get you there!

Developing a career plan can entail a lot of work; however, it will pay off as it lays out a blueprint of where you want to go in your career and how you’ll get there. Setting measurable goals specific to your career will help you get to the next level. No matter what stage of your career, having a plan will help you keep moving forward in the right direction.

Creating a development plan also applies to those who may not have found their dream job yet. By doing so, you will have a concrete plan of how to get to where you want to be and make you feel motivated to get there.

Did you know....

  • Only 29% of organizations have a clear learning and development (L&D) plan for their employees.

  • 34% of employees say that career development opportunities motivated them to leave their previous position.

  • 87% of millennials say professional growth and career development are very important.

  • 76% of employees are looking for opportunities to expand their careers.

So, dont leave it up to your company to provide one. Take it upon yourself to create your own so you have a clear and achievable path for your career journey.

What is a Career Development Plan & Why do YOU need one?

A career development plan is a way of creating a roadmap for your career by creating a personal action plan. This type of plan includes:

  • The starting point: This is where you are now in your career.

  • The destination: Where you want to go and be in your career.

  • The gap: These are the obstacles you must overcome to reach the said destination.

  • The route: How will you close the gap to reach your desired destination?

By going through this process, you will identify specific achievable career goals and not only design a plan but implement strategies to reach your goals.

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How to Create a Career Development Plan (download our handy template!)

1. Identify your current position. This first step allows you to reflect on your current skillsets, strengths, and where you are at. Consider asking yourself questions such as:

  1. What are my past experiences?

  2. What do I enjoy doing?

  3. What are my natural skills and talents?

  4. Do I have a specific calling in life?

  5. What about my career gets me up in the morning?

2. Identify your destination. Start by brainstorming. Allow your brain to go to small goals, larger-than-life goals, and think outside of the box. This is the time in your plan where, if nothing held you back, where would you want to be? After you brainstorm, start to form smaller, more specific goals. This will help you better visualize your plan as these goals are closer to your current day-to-day life. Once you’ve completed the smaller goals, go big! Where do you want to be in five to 10 years? Remember to align your goals to what motivates you the most. By taking the time to do this step right, you’ll be ready to assess how to get to your destination.

3. Do a gap analysis. This is all about what is between where you are and where you want to be. Researching your goal career, consulting with seasoned professionals who are doing what you want to be doing, understanding the skills and experiences needed, and evaluating the qualifications you do and don’t have to see just how far you are and where you need to go

.4. Create your career development plan. Now that you clearly understand what you need to advance in your career, you’re ready to make the plan. Looking at steps 1-3, start by making small task-oriented goals. For example, if you need to know how to use a specific type of sewing machine, look into taking a course or class to learn the skills to understand the machine and the skills needed to use it. Put your small goals into a timeline and create realistic deadlines to help you visualize how your plan will go and stay on track.

5. Measure your progress and evaluate.

This is where you implement, check in to stay on track, and adjust where needed. As you progress, update your goals accordingly. This plan is not concrete. As you grow and evolve, so will your plan.

6. Why Should You Create a Development Plan

Mapping out your career will keep you updated on your industry niche, enhance your business reputation, support you in developing new skills, and re-energize your excitement in your career life. By taking the time to plan, you will have the support you need to reach your career goals, stay motivated and inspired, increase productivity, and strengthen your relationships within your field.

Stay on top of your plan; chances are, you will take your career to the next level.

Check out IFD’s upcoming courses and consider taking some classes as part of your apparel career development plan!

Have you checked out our new fashion design community yet? Create your own profile, share your work, and your career goals, and network with like-minded industry professionals.


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