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Creating your own career development plan

Carl Reeder kicks off a three-part series on preparing a CV and finding employment

It is undeniable that COVID-19 has wrought destruction on our job market and things could conceivably be difficult for the foreseeable future. So, if you find yourself currently unemployed or looking for a new position, it is important that you stay positive and are ready to grab any opportunity that comes your way.

Like everything in life, you must prepare to get employed and the best way to do that is to construct your Career Development Plan (I wish I had done one before I decided to have kids!). This plan needs to be properly recorded and structured, so it can be used effectively. I do mine in Microsoft Word and it remains a live document which I update regularly. Simply put, this plan will answer two questions. Where am I going and where have I come from?

Where am I going?

This question is split into five main subsections.

  • What role am I looking for?
  • How much do I have (not want) to earn?
  • Don’t be greedy, be realistic!
  • Do I have any ideal companies that I would like to work for? Actively promoting yourself to potential employers is never a bad idea.
  • Does the location of your potential employer work for you?
  • Do I require further training?

Where have I come from?

  • Flesh out all the experience you gained in previous roles. Even though you will not use all this information, it will play an important role in shaping your CV to suit the position you are applying for. (For example: Delivering pizza involves customer service, understanding quality control, excellent time management etc). Considering these roles will also allow you to decide if it is something you want to do again.

Record your achievements:

  • Who have you worked with? – Name drops are important! (It’s okay to be somewhat boastful here).
  • Projects you have done.
  • Targets achieved.
  • Sales performances.
  • Courses completed.
  • Tools/machines that you have worked with.
  • Personal achievements (e.g. I climbed Mount Everest in my spare time).
  • HR related topics. Were you involved in any day-to-day HR work?

Travel:

  • Did you travel for previous jobs?
  • Are you happy to travel and, if so, how far and often? (It can sound exciting but is often very taxing over the long term).

Contacts in a specific industry:

  • Potential customers. (Value added is always appreciated).
  • Suppliers with better deals, discounts and/or supply times.
  • Other potential staff who bring additional benefits to the team.

Professional references

  • Who do I know that can help me? (landscaping/gardening is a small, close-knit community):

Computers/IT

  • How computer literate am I?
  • What software packages have I worked with?

Once you have completed your plan, it will show you exactly where you are heading, whether your expectations are achievable and what it will take to get you there. You need to see the plan as an orderly mind dump, putting everything on paper so you miss nothing.

Without it, you run the risk of ‘panic applying’ which will affect your potential success and put you in the employ of a company that doesn’t value you. Don’t be a headless chicken!

Apart from the obvious benefit of having a plan, the process of preparing this will help to compose your mind, give you a positive boost of self-confidence and get you ready for the next step which is preparing your CV.

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