The Ideal Time to Create One

There is no ideal time to create a CDP as it is an ongoing and continuous process that needs active managing. At the end of every phase in your career, you need to ask yourself about the next step you must take to increase your options in the future and get closer to your ultimate purpose, provided you have narrowed down on one.

You don’t have to worry about relying on your employer to make a compelling and actionable CDP. It is something that you can do on your own too. You need to identify and assess certain things before you create your career development plan. These include the following:

1. Scan Your Current Position

Man analyzing

Take a look at where you are at present. Ask yourself questions like:

2. Identify the Destination

Take your time to introspect and reflect on what you want to achieve. Doing so will help you look into various challenges and obstacles holding you back. Then, side-by-side, make a note of your career goals.

After this, you first establish where you would like to see yourself in maybe a year or two. You then establish where you would like to see yourself in the next five to ten years.

3. Research Jobs of Interest

4. Engage with your Network

If you have a mentor or know someone working in a job role that you are interested in, arrange a meeting with that person. Share your thoughts and plans. Also remember to ask questions that will help you work towards your goals to successfully reach that position of interest.

5. Level Up

Note down your qualifications and give them a rating. Doing so will help you understand where you need to improve. Sometimes, it isn’t possible to acquire all your target skills on the job. In such situations, look into external programs that will help you improve. At Emeritus, we offer a range of programs to help you upskill based on your goals.

Once you have set all of the above in place, you will be ready to create your plan. Take into account the skills, education, and experiences that you must accomplish over the next few years. Then, create a plan that will help you achieve your goals. These are the components of your CDP:

#1: Task-Oriented Goals: Add a set of tasks to help you achieve each item on your list. For example, if you need to take up a particular course to learn graphic design, then that must be a part of your CDP.

#2: Organize Your Goals: Set out to first achieve the smaller goals that you know you can do within a short period and then work towards the bigger goals, setting timelines accordingly.

Woman organizing work

#3: Practice SMART Thinking: SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. When you design your goals based on this template, achieving them can be plotted within a timeline.

#4: Task-Based Deadlines: Allocate a timeline against each task. For example, if you plan to enroll in a course, you will need to apply and buy the required books. Give yourself a realistic start and end date to finish this task.

Stick to the Plan with Healthy Habits

Making plans is the easy part. The challenge is transforming them into reality. The same applies to any and all Career Development Plans. Here are some habits that you can cultivate to achieve your goals for your CDP:

It’s All About the Targets

Set realistic targets that you are 100% confident you can achieve within a specific time frame. Once you have accomplished the first one, give yourself another target. The idea behind doing this is to refresh your targets and continuously work towards new goals.

Be Positive. Be Persistent.

Keep Track of Your Accomplishments and Milestones

Check-in to see how much you have accomplished and whether you are on the right track and going as planned. And remember to enjoy and celebrate the milestones that you achieve along the way!

How to Implement a Career Development Plan

Now that we’ve covered what a career development plan is and what guided career planning can offer both your employees and your company, let’s talk about how to implement a career development plan in the workplace. We’ve broken it down into eight simple steps.

1. Identify People Who Want or Need One

If you’re just starting out with career development planning, or you don’t have the resources to extend career planning to all of your people just yet, you might want to start off by offering a career development plan to just a few people and expanding from there.

If this is the case, decide how many employees you have the time and resources to support with a career development plan at the moment, and then choose which people you think would benefit from it the most.

Think about who seems the most frustrated or limited in their current career path, who displays the most drive to learn new things, and who seems the most willing to take on new challenges.

Some employees might be happy with their current career path and not want to move forward with a career development plan for the moment. If this is the case, you can approach others instead.

2. Give Them a Self-Assessment Task

The aim of this is for employees to identify the skills they need to do their job well, what they currently excel at, and where they may need more professional development. This is vital information for career planning.

3. Have Them Do Research Into Themselves and Their Goals

Before their first career development plan meeting, have each employee prepare answers to the following questions. They may want to take some time to research their responses, especially regarding any skills courses they might want to take.

4. Arrange for Them to Meet with Their Managers

Have each employee meet with their line manager to go over their answers to the questions, flesh them out with the manager’s help, and draw up an “official” career development plan for them to work on.

5. Evaluate What’s Achievable in Your Organization

Remember that development opportunities are not restricted to formal courses. They can also include knowledge-sharing events like conferences, working on specific projects, and shadowing or assisting certain people in the company.

6. Implement the Career Development Plan

7. Keep in Touch

Schedule regular follow-up sessions with each employee—quarterly is a good idea—to check in on how their career development process is going, make any necessary adjustments to their career plan, and prepare for the next steps if need be.

It’s also important that people know they can schedule additional career progression meetings at any time, for example to seek advice on a bump in the road or a new career development opportunity they would like to take.

Do’s and Don’ts of Career Development:


  • Send each career development plan to HR so that they can keep a record of them. Inviting HR into the conversation as a third party also helps hold people accountable for their own progress and hold you accountable for not getting in the way of their growth.
  • Acknowledge people’s progress and the work they’re putting in to develop their skills and gain experience. You should also communicate people’s work and improvement to managers who might not work closely enough with them to notice it day to day, so that they can consider them for future opportunities.
  • Take a broad view of career development and don’t limit your thinking to workplace training. For example, think of all the “soft” or interpersonal skills that can’t be taught in a classroom or measured on a CV, and how you can aid people in growing these skills along with their technical abilities.


  • Don’t make talking about career goals beyond your company taboo. If your people feel encouraged to pursue their dreams even beyond your company you will end up with a network of remarkable alumni with many good things to say, and this is a powerful resource.
  • Don’t push people to do things that don’t interest them. Some people might be happy with their current role and job description for the foreseeable future, and there’s nothing wrong with this. A career development plan can still develop their ability to do the job they like as well as they can, and meet any challenges they have too.
  • Don’t make promises to people about future opportunities. Career development opportunities are subject to change based on a number of factors, like budget and company structure. Strike the balance between making people’s development their own responsibility, without standing in the way of their growth when the opportunities arise.


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