Creating a simple personal development plan

If you are wanting to shift yourself in to a new job, further employment or a totally new career it pays to create a personal development plan for yourself.

What follows is a very simple top level plan for how to go about becoming the person you need to be to get the career you want.

What are your personal requirements?

In order to know what to learn and where to focus your energy you need to know what your end goal is.

What do you need to become?

What skill do you need?

You need to know what your end state will be.

In order to do this you’ll need to hit the jobs boards and find job descriptions. You will need to see what skills and experience people are asking for.

Don’t be afraid of what you read. Most learning and up-skilling can be achieved with daily focus. Also consider that most job adverts are outlining the ideal candidate, not the real one. Most job adverts are vague, mostly misleading and often boiler plate. But they can be useful.

Do keep a note of what you read. You’ll need this information.

Another way to find out what you will need for a certain role it to observe someone doing that role. This can be quite easy if they work in the same team or building. Not so easy when you don’t have access to these people. Observing what someone does can be a really good way of working out what skills and experience they have. Make notes. Observe and learn.

Where are you now?

You should already know what point B looks like from doing the above. You now need to work out what point A looks like.
Point A is where you are now.

What skills do you have now? What experience do you have?
You should consider these points in relation to point B.

It’s fine to be good at juggling, but not so useful if you want to be a computer programmer.

To do a skills audit sit down with a piece of paper and write down everything you’re good at, even things like juggling. Don’t edit the flow. Just write it down.
Once you have a list start going through and deleting skills not really useful for the line of work you want to move to (or the job you want).
You should then end up with a basic list of skills and experience.

Consider this list Point A.

Now you need to work out what the gap is between A and B.

As simple as the above sounds I estimate that around 9 out 10 people I work with have not done this. They think they know the gap, but they’ve never written it down. The gap between where they are and where they need to be is often larger than they initially thought.

Whilst doing this though be aware of your limitations. That’s not to say don’t aim high, but be realistic. Despite what people say we can’t all do anything we want to – we are human, we will have limits.

Prioritise your learning

Now you have a rough idea of what gap exists between Point A and Point B you can start to put in place a plan to bridge the gap.

If you know what skills you need and you know what skills you have you can work out what you need to learn. It may be nothing and instead you need to focus on networking and CV writing (stuff I’ll be writing about this year). Or it may be that you need to sharpen your skills in excel, or basic accounting.

Whatever it is you should now have some idea about how to bridge the gap.

With all of this I would always advocate working on your strengths and minimising your weaknesses. Don’t try to make everything a strength. We all have weaknesses so work on minimising these rather than turning them in to a strength. Work on your strengths – these are things that will make you stand out and these are the things you’re good at – become better at them.

Throughout the course of this year I will be sharing with you thoughts and ideas on how to organise your learning, how to find time, how to write a good CV and how to rock an interview. Trust me – finding, getting and then keeping jobs is a skill that can be taught.

If you’re interested then please subscribe to this blog. Later this year I will be launching more resources as well as a newsletter.

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