Free career plan template (with guidance on how to create your own plan)

Free career plan template (with guidance on how to create your own plan)
SEEK content teamupdated on 31 January, 2024

Have you got big hopes for your career, but you’re not quite sure how to make them happen? Or maybe you have no idea about what you want to do and you’re looking for direction. Creating a career plan can help give you something to aim for – and if you have definite goals, it can help you break them down into manageable steps. 

The process of developing a career plan can help you uncover your strengths, skills and aspirations. It can help you identify where you’re at now and give you an idea of where you want to be, so you can make decisions now that will help you reach your goals down the track.

If you’re wondering how to develop your career plan, start by downloading our free career development template, read the advice below, then personalise your own career path following the steps. 

What are career plans?

A career plan is a roadmap that lays out the best route to the job you want in the future, complete with the milestones you need to meet along the way. It’s a handy strategic tool you can use to guide the decisions you make. It involves developing short- and long-term goals, and breaking them down into smaller, actionable steps.

Developing a personalised plan can help you take control of your career path. By developing a career plan at the start of your working life, you set yourself up early to make smart decisions that will help you achieve a satisfying and sustainable career, no matter what you choose to do. 

How to make career plan using a template

When it comes to developing your career plan, it can be difficult knowing where to start. To help you with the planning process, see the career planning template linked above and fill out the sections. From there, you can start to outline your own professional pathway. 

Overview of career development plan template sections

Our career roadmap template is split into five sections. Remember that your career plan will be unique to you, determined by your own goals and aspirations. Here’s how the career pathway plan template works:

  1. Self-evaluation. Reflect on what you’re good at, what motivates you and what you like to do, to get a better understanding of yourself. Self-reflection is the foundation of an effective career plan. It fosters self-awareness, guides decision-making and promotes a more fulfilling and successful professional journey. 
  2. Explore the possibilities. Once you’ve established your motivations, aspirations and strengths, you can start to identify areas, industries and jobs that appeal to you. By finding roles that align with your skills and preferences, you’re a step closer to a rewarding and enjoyable career
  3. Weigh up your options. Now that you’ve identified potential career pathways, it’s time to weigh up your options. Consider the pros and cons of each path. Is there a role that stands out to you or one that you believe you’d excel in?
  4. Set your goals. Once you’ve set your end career goal, you’ll need to break it down into manageable steps to help you get there. It can be helpful to use the S.M.A.R.T technique so you can develop actions that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.
  5. Review. From time to time, revisit your career plan. It’s completely normal for your goals and plans to change, so remember to regularly review your career roadmap and reassess  if the end point is still your ultimate goal.

How to write a career plan: Step-by-step instructions

The easiest way to get started on your career plan is to use the career development plan template, that way you’ve got all the sections in front of you ready to be filled out. While our career plan template comes with handy tips, here’s a little more guidance on how to approach filling out each section.

Step 1: Self-evaluation

Use the self-assessment section to identify your skills and strengths, interests and passions, values and motivations, and your personality traits. There are a number of different tests and assessments you can use to help you with this section, like a personality test or core values assessment. 

Set aside some quiet time for your self-evaluation and fill out this section truthfully. Be honest about your abilities and interests, or you could end up pursuing a career path that doesn’t really suit who you are.

Step 2: Explore the possibilities

Consider all the different roles and industries that appeal to you and create a shortlist of the ones you’re most interested in. You can even have a look at the roles currently advertised on local job boards to see if there’s anything that grabs your interest. Read the role descriptions carefully and make note of the skills and knowledge they require. Explore different organisations to find one with values that align with your own, and where you think you’d be a good fit.

You might even want to consider taking steps toward building your skills and knowledge for different career paths. Aside from formal qualifications, think about volunteering, interning, taking an online course, and speaking to a professional in your chosen industry. 

Step 3: Weigh up your options

By weighing up the pros and cons of each of your career choices, you should be able to develop a list of preferences. Choose the option that you feel best suits you based on your self-evaluation and research of the job, industry or company. Consider factors like work-life balance, job satisfaction, salary, leave and benefits.

Step 4: Set your goals

Once you’ve narrowed down the option that best suits you, it’s time to create an action plan to reach your end goal. Consider your overarching, long-term goal and what short-term goals are needed to get there. Can you leverage any existing personal or professional relationships or resources? 

It’s also worth thinking about the potential challenges you could face while working towards your long-term goal. Whether it’s a lack of time or financial constraints, there are sure to be some bumps in the road, so it helps to be prepared.

Step 5: Review your career plan

As you start to work toward your long-term career goal, be sure to check in with your plan every now and then, to see how you’re progressing. It’s also worth reviewing whenever your situation changes or your goal posts move. At some stage you might even decide to pursue a whole different career, in which case your plan will need a complete overhaul. 

Benefits of a career plan

Taking the time to develop a career plan will benefit you in multiple ways. Even if you’re not exactly sure what you want to do, a general, open-ended plan can still help you move in the right direction. Here are some other benefits of making a career plan. 

Clarity and direction

Whether you develop your own career plan or use a career progression plan template to guide you, having some sort of roadmap in place helps to provide focus and purpose when it comes to making choices related to your career development. By defining career objectives and milestones, you can minimise uncertainty and have a clearer vision of where you want to end up in your career.

Goal achievement

One of the main parts of developing a career plan is setting achievable and measurable short-term goals. Once you have ‘stepping stone’ goals in place, you can start tracking your progress and celebrating milestones. Having a clear plan in place helps you stay motivated and on track to achieving your goals, big and small.

Skill enhancement

A career plan helps you identify skills you want to develop. By doing this, you establish a growth mindset from early on in your career, keeping you on a path of continuous learning and professional development. Regardless of what’s in your career plan, it’s worthwhile to regularly identify any areas for improvement, so you always feel confident and competent in what you do.

Networking and support

Another benefit of completing a career plan is the motivation to build and nurture professional relationships. By identifying your goals and areas for improvement, you might decide to address the gaps by finding a mentor or seeking guidance from people you admire in your chosen field. Doing this gives you access to career services and resources that will help you get the skills and experience you need to achieve your career goals.

Customising your career plan and career planning examples

Our free career plan template is ideal for students and people still figuring out what their ideal career looks like. You can start your plan from scratch and tailor it to suit your interests, strengths and preferred industries. 

Personalising your goals

A career plan isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It should be customised to your short- and long-term objectives and create a unique pathway to where you see yourself in the future. By starting with the part on self-reflection, you’ll be well placed to identify jobs that match your personal values and aspirations. Ultimately, your career plan should help you visualise a pathway to success and job satisfaction.

Adapting your career path

Once you start your working life, you may find you want to change jobs or experiment in different industries. With this in mind, it’s worth regularly reviewing and modifying what’s on your career map template as you gain work experience and learn more about what you like to do. 

Remember that just because you have a career plan, doesn’t mean you have to stick to it. Instead, see it as a flexible guideline that you can adapt to suit different roles or professions. As you continue to build a career and follow different opportunities, your career plan should adapt and outline new goals to work towards. 

Integrating your skill development

For a career plan to be useful, it should include a section for skill development. Use your plan to identify relevant skills and knowledge. By completing the self-reflection section of the template, you should be able to see what skills and strengths you’d like to build upon. From there, you can formulate an improvement plan that outlines any courses or training you need to get the skills – and the roles – you want. 

There’s no time like the present to start career planning. Whether you’re a graduate or still studying, you’ll benefit from some self-reflection to identify your skills, values, interests and overall professional goals. Download our career planner template to get started on creating your own professional pathway.

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