Career Options

Career Development

Career development is a lifelong journey of self-awareness, goal-setting, and professional improvement. It begins with understanding who you are and choosing a career path that aligns with your strengths, interests, and values. Then, it’s about setting goals, creating a plan, and putting that plan into action.

Those who sit back and leave their career development to fate or chance likely won’t end up where they hope to be. The most fulfilled and successful professionals take the reins of their career development and make deliberate steps toward realising their career goals.

Career development is not fixed. It’s not an activity that you do once—and then move on. Just like your situation and goals in life are ever-changing, your career development will continue to evolve and grow with you.

Why Focus on Career Development?

When you take the time to think through what you want and how you plan to get there, you reap long-term rewards. Specifically, managing your career development:

  • Gives you direction. Instead of aimlessly “going with the flow” and leaving your ambitions up to chance, the career development process offers a road map. It puts you in the driver’s seat and steers you on a relevant path.
  • Increases your motivation and feelings of empowerment. No one is more invested in your future than you are. By setting professional goals, you’ll stop hoping and start acting. It’s empowering and motivating to be at the helm of your career path.
  • Boosts your professional fulfillment. Workplace happiness depends on doing both what you’re good at and what you enjoy. By taking charge of your career development, you’ll make sure that you’re not just working hard, but also working toward the right end goal—one that brings a sense of ownership and happiness to the hours you invest in your job.

Career development is about you, as an individual. Your development is linked to your happiness. So, it’s something that you must determine, create, and actively work toward—because the only person who owns your career path is you.

 

 

Watch this video to learn how to create a career development plan.

What Is a Career Development Plan — and Why Make One?

A career development plan is a document that outlines your career aspirations and what it will take to achieve them. It identifies practical action steps you can take to work toward your career goals.

Steps for Creating a Career Development Plan

Creating a career development plan is relatively simple. The first step is to clarify your career goals, and the second step is to develop an action plan for achieving those goals. We’ll break down both of these steps further in the following sections.

Use this template to complete your career development plan

Step 1: Clarify Your Goals

First, you need to know where you’re going before you can chart a path to get there. So, start by reflecting on your career options and select one.

Put aside what others want from you and consider what path will bring you the most personal fulfilment. Ask yourself: “What does success look like at the highest level?”

Make Your Goals SMART

Now that you know where you’re headed and what you need to get there, it’s time to set some SMART goals to make it happen. SMART goals are those that are:

  • S—Specific. Is your goal specific and well-defined? To set specific goals, write down as many details as you can. A goal needs to be specific to be actionable.
  • M—Measurable. Can you measure and track your goal? To set measurable goals, avoid vague words such as “better” and “more” and stick to action words like “create,” and “produce.” Then, turn those words into quantifiable benchmarks by adding dates and precise amounts. Your goal must be measurable to track your progress.
  • A—Attainable. Is this goal attainable? If you set a goal that you can’t realistically achieve, then your only achievement will be frustration and disappointment. To set attainable goals, keep your objectives challenging but realistic. They should be achievable within the resources, knowledge, and time you have available.
  • R—Relevant. Is this goal relevant to your broader career path and long-term plan? It’s easy to fall into the trap of setting a goal that looks good on paper but doesn’t align with what you really want. To set relevant goals, ask yourself: “Does this goal align with my long-term interests, values, and vision?”
  • T—Time-Bound. Does your goal have a deadline? Without a time frame or target date, it’s easy to procrastinate and get distracted. To keep your goals time-bound (and create that internal pressure) focus on building long- and short-term deadlines, marking those dates on your calendar, and setting reminders.

“If you set goals and go after them with all the determination you can muster, your gifts will take you places that will amaze you.”
Les Brown

Activity: Career Development Plan

Using the Career Development Plan template:

Complete Step 1: Clarify your goals.

Step 2. Develop an Action Plan

So, you have a direction. You have a SMART vision of where you’re heading and what milestones or goals you want to work toward.

Now, what do you need to make it happen?

Select the + buttons below to answer this question by working through the following steps.

First, make a list of requirements.

  • What qualifications, licenses and other requirements are needed for the role?
  • What are the specific skills, knowledge, or experiences required for the position you want, the level of expertise you hope to reach, or the career step you want to take?

Break down the criteria for success.

Tip: If you’re unsure about the requirements for the job, the following two websites will help to form career pathways: My Big Tomorrow or Career FAQs. You may also search for job ads on Seek to review the requirements and desired skills for the role.

Second, review your list of requirements and compare that list to your current skills, knowledge, and experiences. What’s missing? What qualifications and licenses do I need? What experience do you need—but don’t yet have? What skills do you lack? Identify the gap between what skills or qualifications you have and what skills or qualifications you need.

Finally, use this information to brainstorm action steps. What will you do about it? List what you will do to develop the expected skills, gain the necessary experience or knowledge, and fulfil the required qualifications to realise your next career goals.

What do you need to reach your goals? Pinpoint any missing skills, knowledge, or experience you need to be successful, and then detail what you will do to acquire them.

If you’re seeking a position at your current workplace, ask your manager. 
Seek the help and insights of your manager. Get your manager’s input by asking questions such as, “What skills, knowledge, or experiences do I need to make this happen? What requirements am I missing? Where are my gaps?” Or, “How can I be a more competitive candidate for the role I want?”

Ideas to Get You Started

If you’re struggling to brainstorm specific steps you can take to gain the experience you need or bridge the skills or knowledge gap, then consider the following options.

First, think about the different ways that you might learn from experience, such as:

  • Job rotations or cross-functional assignments
  • Taking on special projects, assignments, or stretch goals
  • On-the-job training

Tip! You might also gain relevant experience outside of work. For example, if your career goal is to break into a new field altogether, then you might seek volunteer opportunities that allow you to get experience in your desired field. Or, if your career goal is a creative pursuit, then you might seek out artistic opportunities or start a creative, passion project outside of work.

Second, reflect on opportunities you have to learn from others. Explore options such as:

  • Coaching or mentoring
  • Collaborating with coworkers who have more experience, skills, or expertise than you
  • Receiving feedback
  • Job shadowing or studying others’ work

Third, consider what structured or formal educational opportunities might support your career vision, including:

  • Workshops or classes
  • Certification programs
  • Online learning
  • College courses or degree programs
  • Professional conferences or seminars

A Real-World Example

Recap what you’ve learned and put all of these steps together by reviewing the following real-world example.

Select the + buttons below to read the real-world example.

Imagine that you start by asking yourself the question, “What do I want to do in three years?” You write down that you want to move into a management role—but that’s not very specific.

So, you think about how to turn this career vision into a SMART goal. You bring your vision into focus by saying: As someone who enjoys helping others and developing projects, I want to become a technical lead with at least three people reporting to me within two years.”

Next, you want to develop an action plan for becoming a technical lead within two years. So you:

1. Make a list of requirements. In this case, after doing your research, you might discover that to become a technical lead, you need expertise in the following areas:

  • Technical understanding
  • Business knowledge
  • Technical leadership
  • Mentorship
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Communication

2. Identify your skill gaps. Then, with that list, you can identify your skill gaps. For example, let’s say, you lack communication and technical leadership skills.

3. Brainstorm action steps. In that case, you might brainstorm action steps, such as:

  • Introduce new technology and get buy-in from teams
  • Run two kick-off meetings this year
  • Extend my sphere of influence outside of my direct team

Where to now?

After completing the previous activities, you may have a better idea about whether you’re interested in employment or self-employment. You may be interested in both – that’s ok!

Select one of the buttons below – employment or self-employment – to learn more. You can use the menu bar to look at both!

Employment

Employment

Self-Employment

Self Employment

Finding your career

Still unsure about what career path you’d like to head down? These resources might help you!

  1. If you didn’t look at My Big Tomorrow in the previous section, start there.
  2. You could also try the O*NET Interest Profiler to find career options based on your interests.
  3. If you’ve had previous work experience, ensure them into Job Outlook. It’ll then tell you the skills you’ve developed in your previous roles, and other career options that may suit you.

How others found their ideal careers

The following videos explain two methods in finding the right job for you.

Select the + buttons below to watch the videos.

Resources

The following resource can help support school students in determining their study and career planning.

School students — What's your plan?

This resource helps school students plan their future and explore study options.

Select this button to learn more.

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Job searching

Resources

The following resources can help support your job search.

My Future

Publishes many job listings Australia wide and includes job alerts, resume tips, interview advice and training

Select this button to learn more.

Learn More

Jobs & Skills WA

Jobs and Skills Centres that offer free support and workshops for jobseekers

Select this button to learn more.

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Interviews

Typical questions

You may be asked the following two questions at a job interview:

  1. What’s your biggest strength?
  2. What’s your greatest weakness?

By asking these questions, the interviewer is trying the determine whether your skills match the job. They’re also trying to gauge your level of self-awareness.

Before an interview, plan how you’ll respond to these two questions. Read the tips below.

Select the tabs to reveal the tips.

20 Strengths and Weaknesses

for Job Interviews in 2022 (Easy Resume, 2022.)

Select this button for example interview responses.

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