What is a career management plan? (And how to create one)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A career growth strategy describes a combination of activities that help to advance your career. These activities utilise purposeful planning with actionable steps that drive your career in its intended direction. By creating your own career growth plan, you can regularly review and monitor your progress against your plan to determine the positive changes you can make to help you reach your career goals. In this article, we explain what career management is, look at how to create a career growth plan and explain the importance of having a career growth strategy.

What is career management?

Career management is a strategy and approach that largely mirrors a business strategy. It's a cycle that includes research, planning, delivery and evaluation, which effectively allows you to treat yourself and your career as a business. Additionally, it allows you to apply the same robust and thorough, evidence-driven approach that a business leadership team would apply to ensure the organisation's success.

Career growth management is an investment in your professional goals and aspirations and you can do it at any stage, such as when working in an entry-level or senior role. For those that are looking for their first job, it's also great to begin learning the principles and applying the first stages in advance.

Related: Top tips for successful career progression

How to create a career growth plan

Below, you can find out how to create a career growth plan:

1. Become self-aware

Self-awareness is vital for really understanding your goals and motivations. You can benefit from self-awareness as it allows you to identify your own skills, strengths and weaknesses. It also enables you to know what motivates and interests you and understand your guiding values. For this step, try to think about what's important to you as a person and what you'd like your future to look like.

If you can choose careers and jobs that align with your values, interests and skills, you can naturally put yourself in a strong position to have a rewarding and enjoyable career. To develop your self-reflection skills, try introspective practices, such as journaling and mindfulness. You might want to also work with a life coach, who can apply targeted exercises and guidance. While reflecting on yourself, consider the following:

  • your vision of your ideal job and life

  • the things that really motivate you

  • the lessons gained from your current decisions, including what to do differently next time

2. Seek input from others

It can also be helpful to get opinions from other people that you interact with. This is also called 'outsight'. Depending on your current position, you can try speaking to your peers, managers or customers. When doing this, ask for feedback to complement what you already know about yourself and to find out anything that you may not have previously considered. You can also consider adopting other approaches, such as 360-degree feedback and annual performance reviews. These help to build your body of knowledge and let you know what others think, see and perceive about you.

3. Work on your personal brand

The next step involves working on your personal brand. This is your personal reputation and a commitment to what you can and intend to deliver. It tells other people about who you are and what's different or special about you. When you define and communicate your personal brand effectively, this can outline your values, strengths, unique attributes and your passions, which can help you to stand out from others and be memorable.

There are several ways of designing and building your own personal brand so that others immediately think of you when certain opportunities arise. A good personal brand is also a fast track to being visible and having a strong profile in the right places. You can take extra steps to then grow your visibility in your chosen field by volunteering for projects and offering to help mentor or coach new recruits.

4. Invest in your network

When you build relationships with others, you can potentially utilise and benefit from these connections at a later date. To gain the most benefits, try to network as widely as possible and build relationships outside of your own line of work as, sometimes, the most obscure connections can give you links to networks that you might otherwise struggle to access. You can also reach out to former colleagues, managers and external partners to build your network.

Investing in your network can grow your career and provide you with some useful safeguards. For instance, if you need a referee, guidance or a new job, your network can help you to find it, along with potentially offering you guidance, advice, opportunities and introductions. In light of this, ensure that you nurture yours by starting conversations and showing a genuine interest in others. In addition, try to attend events and reconnect with old work or school friends. Another effective method for networking is utilising online digital platforms to connect with other like-minded individuals in your industry.

Related: How to choose a career path

5. Manage upwards

Managing upwards is about creating a productive and effective work relationship with your manager and it can play a key role in your own professional development. Try to find out about your manager's challenges and pressures, their own strengths and development areas and their preferences for communication and working. Alongside this, look for ways to complement their own strengths and preferences and address any areas where you can provide support. You can also ask how you can help them and make their working life easier.

Additionally, try to communicate proactively with your manager. This involves talking about your own strengths and development areas, your preferred work and communication style and your goals and ambitions. This can help your manager to manage you more effectively and promote a healthy, cooperative and professional work relationship. You can even consider providing useful feedback and ideas to improve things within the team or offering other team members extra support. Investing in your manager's own success, alongside sharing your own ambitions with them, can be beneficial for you as your manager is more likely to help you achieve your goals.

6. Build a growth mindset

A big part of managing your career is about understanding the psychology of success and nurturing a growth mindset. This means committing to the process of continual and incremental growth over time. To do this, try to read books about personal and career development. Additionally, look for opportunities to develop yourself and work hard to exceed expectations. Alongside this, always seek opportunities to learn new skills, build new connections and demonstrate your value. Try to envision yourself as an asset that can be continually developed with the right commitment, dedication and hard work.

7. Review and evaluate

As part of your career growth strategy, ensure that you regularly review your plan. This involves looking at the goals that you set yourself for the previous week, month or quarter and evaluating them. During this step, make sure that you assess your current progress and identify the areas where you can improve. If you discover that you've deviated from your plan, try to identify the actions you can take so you can follow the strategy more closely. When reviewing your goals and intended direction, it's also helpful to consider the following:

  • whether this career is still right for you

  • whether you've gained new information that makes it beneficial for you to deviate from your current career strategy

  • the steps you can take to work towards your long-term goals more effectively

As you gather data and evidence about the steps you're taking, you can then use these to evaluate your progress and guide your career direction.

Related: 8 steps to effectively approach career exploration

Benefits of a career growth strategy

Career growth strategies can be highly beneficial for individuals. To understand this, it can be useful to look at how performance reviews benefit businesses. Employees typically have annual performance reviews with their line managers, which is a formal process that checks if an employee is delivering their objectives and goals in line with the broader business strategy. Businesses conduct these reviews to ensure they achieve their overall goals and that their assets are performing to their full potential. With a career growth strategy, individuals can apply this same logic to their own careers and think of themselves as a business.

Having a career growth strategy can help individuals to achieve their career goals and objectives due to the structure, rigour and objective assessment that a career growth plan provides. This can help you to achieve your goals faster and it can also be a very motivating and engaging process that allows you to focus on your career and ensures that you direct your energy towards the right things.

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