Action Plans for your Career

Action Plans for Your Career


Action planning is a process which will help you to focus your ideas and to decide what steps you need to take to achieve particular goals that you may have.

It is a statement on paper of what you want to achieve over a given period of time.

Preparing an action plan is a good way to help you to reach your objectives in life.

An effective action plan should give you a concrete timetable and set of clearly defined steps to help you to reach your objective, rather than aimlessly wondering what to do next. It helps you to focus your ideas and provides you with an answer to the question ‘‘What do I do to achieve my objective?’’.

It’s OK to have several objectives, but you will need to make a separate action plan for each, otherwise things get confusing.

Although here we shall be applying the techniques to careers, it can be used effectively to help you to reach your goals in many aspects of your life, for example: to pass your driving test.

The following are all valid goals for an action plan:

  • To get more involved in an organization or group to get to know more people.
  • To decide what skills I need to improve and how I will improve them.
  • To investigate the different tools available to help me to choose a career, such as computer-aided careers guidance.

When action planning in a career sense there are likely to be three main areas in which you want to develop action plans. These are:

  • Choosing the career you wish to enter.
  • Working out a strategy to help you enter this career e.g. application and interviews.
  • Developing skills or determining the transferable skills that you need to acquire to allow you to enter the career of your choice and to be successful in it.


Action planning is a cyclical process, and once you have been through one cycle, you can start again at the beginning. Of course, in real life it’s not quite as simple as this. The process is more organic and stages will sometimes overlap, or you may change your goals as you progress, and you must be prepared to revise your plan as circumstances dictate.

The main steps in preparing an action plan are as follows:

  • Have a clear objective. (‘‘Where do I want to be?’’)
  • Start with what you will do NOW.There is no point in having an action plan that will start in six months time.
  • Define clearly the steps you will take. (“How do I get there?’’) Think of all the possible things you could do to take you closer to achieving your goal, no matter how small. Break down any large steps into smaller components, so it doesn’t seem so difficult to achieve.
  • Arrange the steps in a logical, chronological order and put a date by which you will start each step.Try to set yourself weekly goals: what research you will do into jobs, what skills you will concentrate on learning etc. It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of planning a timetable each evening listing your tasks for the next day or two.

Decide when you will review your progress. Keep a diary or logbook of your daily activities and record in it your progress as things happen.

A good time to start your review is about two weeks after you have begun. Review how far you have got towards your objective, identify any mistakes you made and what you can learn from them, look at any new ideas or opportunities that may have presented themselves and then revise your plan to incorporate these.

In more detail, the stages are as follows:

  • WHERE AM I NOW?This is where you review your achievements and progress, and undertake self-assessment.
  • WHERE DO I WANT TO BE?This is where you decide your goals.
  • HOW DO I GET THERE?This is where you define the strategy you will use to achieve your goals, and to break down your goal into the smaller steps you will need to take to achieve your target.
  • TAKING ACTION.This is the “nitty gritty” where you implement your plan!
  • WHERE AM I NOW? The cycle begins again with a redefinition of your goals……..

To your successful job search and development of your Action Plan.

Fran Watson

P.S.  Need some help getting started?  Drop me a line or post a comment below.

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