How to create a career development plan

May 5, 2021

Source: Pexels/Ron Lach 

Having a career plan is a critical requisite for managing the direction of your career, identifying the job skills you need to ensure career advancement, and ultimately securing your perfect job. 


While it may sound straightforward, developing a career plan can prove a challenge.

Nonetheless, setting up specific and measurable career goals can go a long way in helping you understand what you want to achieve in your professional development and what you need to do to get there. 

A career plan is particularly critical for energy and infrastructure sectors, considering they are some of the most competitive and dynamic industries. This means you need to clearly understand where you are in your career and what you need to gain a competitive edge. 

Here are reasons why a career development plan is important:

  •   Helps define your future career path 
  •   Helps you take charge of your own advancement 
  •   Helps you identify areas that need improvement 
  •   Offers the confidence necessary to advance to the next level

Read on to see how you can create a practical career development plan.

Identify your current position and career options

The first step in creating a career development plan is to assess your current position with regard to your past experiences, your strengths, specific skills, and values. Taking note of your success metrics will help you identify how the current projects and responsibilities map to your ultimate goal. 

Identifying your current job position also helps you to narrow your options so that you are not overwhelmed along the way. Take into consideration factors such as your current position in your field and academic ambitions, as they provide a basis for your potential. 

Identify your destination 


Source: Pexels/Kateryna Babaieva

The whole point of a career development plan is to design a strategy to help you reach your ultimate career objectives. Take time to understand where you want to be in, say, the next ten years, and compartmentalise your career within that timeline. 

For example, if your dream is to be a senior project manager in a midsize energy company, be sure to incorporate it into your plan. 

Ideally, it is advisable to establish where you want to be in small increments; take into account where you are and what you want to do in the next two years. It is easier to visualise and achieve the ultimate goal if you work on it in smaller portions. 

Looking for more candidate career advice? Check out our jobseeker guide! 

Do a gap analysis 

A gap analysis essentially helps you to compare actual performance with the desired outcome. Here, you can begin by finding job listings for the job you want, taking into account your skills, experiences, and requirements. You can rate your qualifications to identify the areas you are competent in, as well as those that need extra effort and time to perfect. 

A gap analysis is a crucial step in your career development plan as it helps you to see a pattern of your capabilities, especially on what requires further development. Consulting with a professional or even a colleague will ensure you note any missing details in your gap analysis. 

Now that you have identified the skills and experiences you need to achieve your goals, here is how to create a career development plan to help you achieve them

Set small, task-oriented goals as part of your action plan — Create a set of tasks and identify means of accomplishing them. For instance, if one of the needed skills is to learn how to operate certain software, take a course to polish it. 

Organise your goals around a reasonable timeline and start with short-term goals that you can achieve quickly before moving to long-term goals. It's also important to track your progress as you go along.

Think SMART — The SMART goal template (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound) helps you design your goals, ensuring they are tangible, realistic, and therefore achievable. 

Create task deadlines — Working with deadlines is a sure way to complete your tasks within the set timeline. 

Measure your progress and be ready to evaluate

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Source: Pexels/ThisIsEngineering

Implementing your personal goals and evaluating them along the way ensures you are on the right path from beginning to end. For guaranteed success, you need to keep track of every activity to make sure you are doing everything in the correct order. Equally important, consider milestones and update your goals as circumstances change and more opportunities present themselves. 


A career development plan is important in helping you advance your career goals. Mapping out your career will help you attain your goals and keep you motivated, productive, and, accordingly, successful in your career.   

At Airswift, we strive to help individuals in the energy, process and infrastructure industry achieve their career goals. Sign up to our jobs board for all the latest vacancies around the world.

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This post was written by: Zoe Carpenter, Regional Recruitment Manager, Airswift