The importance of having a career plan

Why is career planning important?

A career plan is important as it can help you manage the direction of your career, the job skills and knowledge you may need, how you get them and how you can secure your dream job. Developing a career plan can make major objectives that seem impossible become much more manageable.

Career planning may intimidate some people who might not be sure about the direction they would like their career to take or the path they wish to go down. But a career plan should be viewed as a way to get to what you want rather than a list of strict rules and objectives. They should be fluid and help you design your future the way you want it, but remain flexible enough that they can change when your ambitions or goals shift.

How to form a career plan

Each person's career plan is different, as these plans all depend on what type of person you are. For some, they may be very structured and full of detail, for others they may be more fluid and only require a few notes in each section.

When creating a career plan, always include what you will do, how you will do it, who you will seek help from and when things will be completed. Creating a timeline can hold you to account and help you stick to your goals.

To develop your career plan, follow these five steps:

Step 1: Self-assessment helps you understand your personal and career goals, your interests, preferences, strengths and weaknesses.

Step 2: Consider your career options and identify roles that fit within your interests and abilities.

Step 3: Decide on your career goals, for example, where would you like to be in five years?

Step 4: Develop and implement a career strategy

Step 5: Review and adjust your strategy

Checklist to help you form your career plan

  • Are you clear about the sort of work you would like to do?
  • What kind of job skills or knowledge will you need?
  • Do you require additional job skills or experience?
  • What areas will you need to develop?
  • What kind of experience would be helpful to you?
  • Is there a course you need to complete to gain a specific qualification or skill?
  • What actions do you need to take to reach your career goals?
  • Do you need to build a wider network or join specific groups?
  • Are there any contacts you can make, or relationships that you can develop, that might help you?
  • Do you have a supportive network?
  • Do you have a mentor you can discuss your career plan and technical aspects of the role with? If not, can you find a mentor?
  • Is there someone you can discuss your goals with?
  • How often will you discuss your goals with them?
  • Do you feel in charge of your career direction? if not, how can you take charge?

To help get you started with your career plan, download a career toolkit guide from the Victorian Government Careers Exploration page.