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Do you have a professional development plan? If not, you’re not alone. While professional development plans are most common in larger organisations and corporate settings, they can be invaluable in helping you achieve your career and personal goals - no matter what industry you’re in.

So what exactly is a professional development plan?

Basically it’s a plan that outlines your strengths, weaknesses and goals for the short and long term. It then outlines key actions and tasks you can take to work on your weaknesses, and develop the skills, knowledge and experience you need to reach your goals.

Whether you work alongside your employer to create a development plan, or take responsibility for it yourself, here are 5 reasons why you should absolutely take the time to create one.

1. Sets out your goals and keeps you on track

Have you ever felt a bit lost and confused by where you’re going in your career? Well a professional development plan will keep you on track, especially when you’re feeling stuck. It’s very easy to get distracted and take detours in your career. By having your goals and set actions written down you can refer back to your plan when you’re feeling stuck or unsure about where you are at in your career.

2. Identifies your strengths and weaknesses

One of the most valuable outcomes of a professional development plan is, ironically, personal development. Why? Well to create a sound plan you need to engage in self-reflection and identify your strengths and weaknesses. By being aware of where you are strong and where you need to do some work to improve you create stronger self-awareness, and ultimately help yourself become a better colleague, employee and driven individual.

3. Helps you make important career decisions

By setting out your goals you know where you need to head and what experience you need to get. Similarly by writing down your strengths and weaknesses you identify what experience, opportunities and support you need to improve and develop the skills you need.

These two elements combine to create a powerful decision making tool. If you find yourself wondering if your current role is still right for you, or if you have to choose between new opportunities, you can use your plan to identify if you are receiving the opportunities and support you need to progress through your plan.

4. Supports your ability to receive a pay rise

Ideally you will create your professional development plan in collaboration with your employer for at least your short term goals. It’s great to align these goals and your development plan with a structured review process and agree on what points in your development you’ll receive a pay rise, and what you’ll need to achieve to do so.

By having your plan written down and an agreement with your employer it's much easier to ask for a pay rise when you hit your milestones. And if you don’t receive them despite progressing through your plan, you’ll know when to move on to a new opportunity.

5. Demonstrates initiative for new employers

Like we mentioned earlier you don’t need to work directly with an employer to have a professional development plan. And in fact, it’s a good idea to have your own long-term plan EVEN IF you have one in your current role.

By developing your own professional development plan you can use it to negotiate new roles, projects and learning opportunities. Employers and clients love to see initiative in the people they hire and work with. By articulating your goals and development objectives you create a transparent and aligned relationship and demonstrate your willingness to learn.

Is getting certified on your professional development plan? Contact our team to find out how RPL can help you with your professional goals.

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