Career Action Plan

A Roadmap to Your Future

Road Map
Embarking on your career without an action plan is like leaving for a trip without a road map. Jacobs Stock Photography / Photodisc / Getty Images

What is a Career Action Plan?

A career action plan is a road map that takes you from choosing an occupation to becoming employed in that occupation to reaching your long-term career goals. It is also referred to as an Individualized (or Individual) Career Plan or an Individualized (or Individual) Career Development Plan.

Before You Begin

Writing a career action plan is the fourth step in the career planning process.

You must complete the first three steps of the process before you can tackles this one. Steps one through three, in order, are:

  • Self Assessment: During this step you will use several self assessment tools to learn about your values, interests, aptitudes and personality type. Your goal is to identify a variety of suitable careers. Ideally you should have between 10 and 15 occupations on your list.
  • Career Exploration: Now that you know what occupations are suitable based on your self assessment, you can begin to explore the ones you are interested in. You don't have to investigate every single career on your list but you never know what you may learn when you do. The occupation that appears on the surface as something you wouldn't like could end up being the one that interests you the most once you learn more about it. 
  • Match: Armed with information about several careers, you should start thinking about making a final decision. Consider the pros and cons of each of your options and then choose the one that you decide is the best choice for you. You should base your decision not only on what you would enjoy doing the most, but also on what is a feasible choice in terms of the requirements associated with it. For example, if it requires earning an advanced degree, you will need to decide if you are willing to put in the time, energy, effort and financial resources pursuing one would involve.

    Setting and Reaching Your Goals

    When you know what you want to do, career-wise, you can then set your goals. Your career action plan will be made up of these goals and the steps you will have to take to reach them. Here's what you need to do:

    • First brainstorm to come up with a list of all your goals.
    • Then break your goals down into short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals are those you can reach in one year or less. Long-term goals are ones that are attainable in one to five years. For example a long-term goal may be completing your college degree. Completing your college applications would be a short-term goal.
    • Identify any barriers that could threaten your ability to reach your goals and then figure out what solutions can help you overcome them. If you can't find viable solutions, you may need to reformulate your goals. An example of a barrier to your goal of earning a college degree might be a learning disability. A solution that could help you get past it would be learning about the resources available to you at the college you plan to attend and then taking full advantage of them.

    Writing Your Career Action Plan

    You can now write your career action plan. It will list all the goals—both short-term and long-term—that you identified. It will include the steps you will have to take to reach them, the barriers that may get in your way and the solutions you have come up with for dealing with them.

    Want to Know More?

    This is a very important step in the career planning process. Read Writing a Career Action Plan to learn about this subject in greater detail.

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