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What Is a Career Action Plan?

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A career action plan is a customizable document you create to establish your career goals. You might create one as you start your career or you might write one as you near retirement. Any time you make a career change is a good time to devise a new plan. Because it is personalized, there is no right or wrong way to write a career action plan.


A career action plan allows you to set clear priorities for your career and establish a vision of where you want to be at a certain point in your life, whether it’s five or 10 years into your career or at your retirement. The plan allows you to assess your strengths and weaknesses so you can build on them. It also allows you to evaluate job advancement opportunities as they become available to you. At the same time, a career action plan has enough flexibility to it that you can adjust your goals and timelines, as necessary.

Skills Inventory

As you prepare your career action plan, assess the skills you have. Determine whether there are skills you need to learn to advance in your career. For example, you might need to learn how to use your company's database software more efficiently. Also, assess whether your level of education is sufficient to meet your goals or you need to take additional classes to help you meet them. As you assess your work skills, also consider your people skills. For example, if you are shy, learn ways to be more outgoing.


Once you have assessed your skills, establish your goals. Each goal should have a measurable outcome and a timeline, so you can evaluate the success of your plan. An example might be to earn a promotion within a year. Goals can be both personal and professional in nature. For example, you may set a goal to become more comfortable speaking to large groups. This might help you with your job and in your personal life if you work with volunteer or civic groups. If you want to step into leadership roles within your workplace, develop the organizational and social skills necessary to assume leadership.

Action Steps

Write at least one action step for each goal in your career action plan. This is where you state how you plan to accomplish your goal. If one of your goals is to take advanced courses to prepare for a promotion, the action step would be to enroll in the courses and successfully complete them. List any resources you might need to complete the action step. For example, you might need time off from work to attend a class. As you complete each action step, evaluate whether you felt the activity was worth your time and effort. You can continue to add action steps, if necessary, to work toward meeting your goals.


Denise Brown is an education professional who wanted to try something different. Two years and more than 500 articles later, she's enjoying her freelance writing experience for online resources such as and other online information sites. Brown holds a master's degree in history education from Truman State University.

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