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Sample Career Advancement Plan

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Career advancement plans make it easier to achieve your professional development goals. Professional development goals might be your own personal objectives or those that you and your supervisor and manager determined as a result of your most recent performance appraisal. Instead of creating two career paths -- one based on personal objectives and another based on your supervisor's assessment of what you should achieve, combine the two to create a career advancement plan that checks both boxes.


Make a list that defines your current position. Include the skills and qualifications required for your current job, as well as advanced skills or competencies that would improve your current job performance. You may need to review your most recent performance appraisal to complete this portion of your career advancement plan. Outline your career path, according to positions you aspire to in the next two to five years. This assessment is just the outline of your advancement plan -- specific goal-setting follows.


Career advancement plans include goal-setting. An effective method for identifying objectives and milestones is the SMART method. SMART refers to goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. List at least two to three SMART goals for your short-term goals that you intend to achieve within the next 12 to 18 months. Assign another two to three goals for your midterm goals you'll achieve within the next 18 months to three years. Your long-term goals begin at the three-year mark; list goals you will focus on from three to five years from the date on which you construct your career advancement plan.

Action Plan Items

Develop action plan items for each of your goals. Start with your short-term goals -- 12 to 18 months away. For example, if your short-term goal is to complete company-sponsored leadership training, indicate the date on which you intend to complete that goal. For goals determined by availability of your company's training opportunities, check with the human resources department for prerequisites and course offerings. Likewise, write down on a calendar intermediate milestones, such as Leadership Training I to complete within six months and Leadership Training II to complete within 12 months.


Many of your goals may require support from others or monetary resources that could determine your ability to complete the goals or how easily accessible some of your steps are. In addition, available resources could determine how you prioritize your goals. For example, if your employer doesn't provide tuition assistance and completing your college degree is part of your midterm goals, you might need to postpone starting course work until the latter part of your midterm goal period when you might have enough money saved to pay tuition and fees on your own.


SMART goals aren't smart if you neglect tracking, which is why you should always include a system for monitoring your progress and completion. If you need your supervisor's or manager's oversight, schedule regular conferences to talk about your progress, revise strategy or assess your overall plan whenever necessary. Permit some flexibility in your career advancement plan so that you don't get discouraged if you don't meet every goal on time.


Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

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