Creating a Career Development Plan
When it comes to advancing in your career, a failure to plan is, in truth, a plan to fail. It’s not enough to simply have hopes and dreams, you need to chart a career path by developing an actionable career development plan that includes all the steps from today through your ideal outcome. Doing so takes a lot of work and it can be hard to know where to begin. The following is a step-by step guide to developing your career development plan.
STEP #1: PERFORM A SELF ASSESSMENT
Write down your interests
Start somewhere vague and narrow your list down from there. Think of the skills, education, and experience you have, what motivates you and what kind of employee you are. For example: I enjoy working with numbers and people, I have my PCP and I like to lead projects.
Establish where you are at the moment
Think carefully! For example: I have completed my PCP courses. I have an accounting background. I have no Payroll experience.
Think about where you want to be in the future
Dream big! For example: I would like to be in a Managerial role.
STEP #2: ESTABLISH YOUR GOALS
Set SMART (Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound) goals
SMART goals translate dreams into action items that can realistically be achieved. Start by identifying all of the steps required to get from where you are to where you’re going. If your dream is to become a payroll manager within 10-years, the steps might be:
Complete my PCP certification courses
Gain relevant work experience to meet the PCP experience requirement
Obtain my PCP certification
Gain more advanced payroll experience to meet the CPM experience prerequisite
Complete my CPM certification courses
Obtain my CPM certification
Now, make these steps actionable by translating them into SMART goals. For example:
Complete my PCP certification within the next two years by attending courses at ABC College or online
Gain relevant work experience by applying for entry level positions/internships through JobConnect, LinkedIn or other job boards starting today and create a network of other payroll professionals by joining my local Canadian Payroll Association branch and attending industry events in the next six months.
Obtain my PCP certification
Work in payroll and gain at least two (2) years of weighted experience being responsible for an organization's payroll function, which includes being accountable to management for the accuracy of employees' pay and all government statutory remittances, or equivalent experience
Complete my CPM courses with the support of my employer within the next 6 years
Identify any barriers to your goals
Make a list of potential barriers that could keep you from completing the steps along your career path. These can be personal or professional. For example, your resume may not be ideally written to gain relevant work experience or maybe you need to polish your interview skills.
Figure out ways to defeat these barriers
Once you've identified barriers, figure out how you want to overcome them. If your resume isn’t ideally written, you can research resume templates, ask someone you trust to review it, and/or speak to a senior payroll or HR professional in your network or a recruiter in your area. Ensure you have a professional profile on LinkedIn and search for interview skills information to help enhance your skills. Maximize local resources that are available to you, for example, many employment agencies frequently host free resume writing sessions or workshops on honing your interview skills.
STEP #3: MAKE YOUR PLAN A LIVING DOCUMENT
Measure progress every step of the way
The only way to know if you’re on track is by measuring and evaluating progress along the way. By evaluating, you’ll be able to identify where you need to focus your time and energy. For example, if you finish your PCP course work ahead of schedule but have not been able to attend any industry events, you can spend more time searching for careers on job boards.
Visualize your career development on a timeline
Once you've established a series of goals, order your timeline in a logical order. Start with your short term goals and move up to your long-term goals, until you've achieved your dream. You essentially want to design a road map you'll follow to success. Go the extra mile by cross-referencing your road map with “Backwards Goal-Setting”. Ensure that your plan matches with the requirements that employers are seeking in order to increase the success of reaching your end goal.
Keep your plan dynamic
Your career plan is not set in stone. Keep in mind your goals may change over time. You may need to revise your career plan due to some unforeseen circumstances. You also may change what you want with time, or realize the ways to achieving a particular goal are different than you anticipated. You can (and likely should) alter your plan in the future.