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Why You Need to Make a Personal Development Plan

Why You Need to Make a Personal Development Plan main image

By Zulfah Abrahams

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Planning for your future, establishing direction for career growth and taking responsibility for your career path may seem like a tall order, but it need not be with a little help from a Personal Development Plan (PDP).

In essence, a Personal Development Plan is a lifelong process, constantly reviewed, that aims to facilitate ongoing employability through improving workplace skills and required knowledge. Whatever aspirations you hold are transformed into a workable plan of action through drafting and implementing a structured process that takes into account current learning, transferable skills, further training requirements and perceived obstacles to overcome.

In drawing up an effective Personal Development Plan you will need to conduct an honest appraisal and reflection of both your strengths and weaknesses, the leadership and management training you have and what development training will be required in the future that will promote your career goals.

Propel your career from a position of power

By going through the different stages in the PDP cycle, you’ll gain a number of valuable insights. These insights work to provide you with greater clarity and confidence on living the kind of life you want, and the attributes and competencies you bring to a potential job. Armed with this self-analysis, you are better abled and equipped to launch a successful graduate job search.

The four key areas of a Personal Development Plan

In outlining a Personal Development Plan you will need to focus on the following four areas of importance:

What goals are you aiming for?

Without an idea of what goals you are aiming for, it is hard to offer a strategic plan on what direction to take to achieve them.

This initial stage requires a certain degree of honest self-analysis. What vision do you hold for your future? What goals would be significant to your career path? Prioritise these goals and remember to differentiate between short, medium and long term goals.

Weigh in on your current situation

Once you have clear idea of where you would want to be, the next step is to determine where you are at. Questions such as what competencies you have that play to your strengths, skills you need to develop in your chosen field, what resources are available that will allow you to build these skills and what are the threats that may impede your end goals are all a good place from which to start strategizing.  

A concrete actionable plan

What actions do you need to take to realise your identified goals? What resources are available to you and what would you need to address areas of weakness? 

For example, would you need finance to fund further independent, industry-specific training or how much time would on-the-job training take? Your plan of action should be centred on a reasonable timescale by factoring how long each objective will take to achieve.

Review your progress

Sometimes even the best laid plans don’t always go according to schedule. Undoubtedly a PDP is an incredibly useful tool in mapping out a successful future, however, it does take constant reviewing, reflecting and updating to keep your focus firm on what you want to achieve and the steps you need to take your career path to greater heights.  

Successful careers are launched with a carefully laid out plan and a proactive attitude. Without a clear path to follow, it is easier to become distracted and lose focus on your objectives.  This is where a Personal Development Plan offers the structure and management of your career progression.

Zulfah Abrahams writes for Inspiring Interns, which helps companies find the perfect intern and career starters the perfect job, in everything from tech jobs to marketing internships.

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