Guide to Writing a Career Development Plan
Part 1: Employee Instructions
Write down your primary career interest.
Tip: A primary career interest is usually described in terms of a general vocation. For example, "My primary career interest is marketing within the automobile industry."
Identify long-term professional goals (including positions desired within the company).
Tip: Long term professional goals are often conveyed in terms of specific positions ("become a regional sales manager") or major accomplishments ("write a book").
Tip: List any lateral moves or promotions that will help you meet your long-term professional goals. For example, "I want to move from sales associate to sales manager, and finally to regional sales manager."
Identify the short-term goals that contribute to long-term interests and the challenges that must be overcome in order to reach these goals.
Tip: Identify barriers, both personal and external, that prevent you from accomplishing your short-term goals, then create ways to overcome them. For example, "My short-term goal is to acquire advanced computer skills. The barrier is the time constraints on my job in mechanical engineering which leave me little or no time to receive the additional training I need. The way I could overcome this barrier is to find more efficient ways to complete my tasks or to delegate them to others while I attend the August training sessions."
List 2-3 activities that will help you reach each goal. Be sure to specify how you will accomplish the activity, including any resources you might need, and when you will start and finish it. (Resources may include other people's time/expertise, funds for training materials and activities,or time away from your other responsibilities).
Tip: Common Development Activities
- Identify and cultivate a relationship with a mentor/role model.
- Read relevant material.
- Engage in training and education.
- Keep a journal.
- Attend appropriate seminars.
- Take on special job assignments or job rotation.
- Receive coaching from a skilled co-worker.
- Increase customer contact.
- Incorporate activities into ongoing work assignments.
Describe tasks in your current job that are contributing to long term goals and that you would like to emphasize or perform more frequently.
Describe tasks in your current job that are not contributing to your long-term goals. Suggest ways to minimize, remove, or delegate them to others.
Write down any additional skills, knowledge or experience you would like to acquire that may directly or indirectly help you in your current job or future positions.
Describe when and how progress checkpoints will occur (e.g., memos, phone calls, meetings) and what developmental activities will be completed or discussed at these times.
Part 2: Manager Review
Questions to ask....
1. Are you aware of your employee's career interests and values? Do you know which of your employee's strengths contribute to these career goals and what areas need to be developed?
2. Do you feel that the short-term goals your employee has suggested are unrealistic, given the employee's abilities or other external factors? Is there anything standing in the way of the desired goals?
Tip: Convey what you know about organizational realities to help the employee set short-term goals. If you think there are outside barriers which will inhibit the attainment of their goals, describe them and help the employee work around them.
3. Do you know of other activities that would help the employee reach the developmental goals? What has helped you in the past in this area?
Tip: Help the employee select at least one development activity for each short-term goal. Scan the Employee Appraiser Coaching Advisor for action suggestions.
4. Are there people you know who could help your employee meet their career development goals? Can you provide the resources identified?
Tip: Help the employee meet their goals by offering your ideas, contacts with people, and resources. Think of at least one person who could help the employee in a mentor or advisor role.
5. Can you make changes to the employee's job to replace routine tasks with new work that is more closely aligned with the employee's goals?
Tip: If you agree with the employee's suggestions for expanding their responsibilities, work with them to define any additional knowledge or experience they will need to meet the new set of expectations. Also take a close look at how their workload will be affected, and discuss any responsibilities they will need to give up.
Tip: When employees mention tasks they no longer want to be involved with, ask them for specific suggestions on how to get the same result without their involvement, e.g. delegate, eliminate, or find more efficient ways of accomplishing the tasks.
6. Have you and the employee agreed on dates for progress checkpoints and what will be measured at each one?
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Upon graduation I wish to lead the fiber-optics product management team in one of the world’s largest optical communication companies (such as Alcatel-Lucent and AT&T), supervising a group of 5-10. Striving to promote myself within the organization, I wish to become the Vice President of Marketing in the fiber optics segment, supervising several dozens of employees.
My mid-term goal is to become the founder and CEO of an innovative fiber optics firm. I desire to position the company as a profitable, international and leading company in its industry, and aspire to establish a sustainable organization, creating workplaces for thousands of employees and turning an underdeveloped area into a flourishing industrial zone. Passave, an optical communication company, which was lately acquired for $300M, is a model for such a successful company.
After fulfilling this goal, I intend to follow the growing trend of successful executives who moved to the public service sector. My plan is to become a senior manager in the Prime Minister’s Office.
I chose my first full time position in the Optronics Division at the military because I knew it will introduce me to the diverse optical communication community in my country, equipping me with basic hands-on experience in the field. The first two years I worked as a Physicist and a System Engineer and then I was promoted to the position of Electro-Optical Projects Manager in the division’s headquarters. There I set the goals, supervised and directed 9 Project Mangers in optical projects performed by 7 different companies in the defense industry.
At that point I realized that for developing the managing tools required for a senior manager I’ll need to gain more experience in bigger organizations. Therefore, I persuaded the head of the R&D directorate to be reassigned to a classified Intelligence unit. My first mission as an Optical Engineer was to lead a group of 4 in building a module which was the heart of a $100M system. One year later I was appointed to a Team Leader where I commanded a team of 8. Two years later I was promoted to Project Leader.
I understood I lacked the financial and international experience of technological project management to lead a global optical communication company. I therefore became a Project Leader in a classified unit of the PMO. I supervised a team of 20, and managed all financial aspects of a $2M project (presented to the Minister of Defense), where I also had the marvelous opportunity to negotiate with highly ranked officials of three foreign governments.
While considering studying for a PhD, I worked as a part time an Internal Consultant of 5 Project Leaders. I then became an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) in Precede, an entrepreneurship and investment firm, in hope to learn more about becoming an entrepreneur. Working in Precede, I matured in my understanding. I realized I still lack some Finance, Marketing and General Management foundations, which an MBA will enable me to develop.
In light of my long term goal to become a founder and CEO of a technologically oriented company, I’ll need to gain the strongest possible general management skills. The finance and marketing foundations will compensate for my inexperience in these fields. The structured formal general management education I’ll acquire in Wharton will broaden my view and give me the tools to leverage my experience and create a successful company. I believe an MBA is the most structural way to learn how to build organizational values, culture and design organizational structure and hierarchy.
Moreover, most of my leadership experience was developed in governmental organizations, where a leader is defined in terms of his values, inter-personal skills and professionalism. However, looking into the future, I will need to lead in the private sector where leadership is also characterized by the talent to lead corporate players in global, competitive markets and an understanding of the cultural, economical and financial forces that drive the marketplace. Hence, I believe studying by the researchers of the Center of Leadership and Change Development like Prof. S. Kaplan who composed Framing the Future will help me build and lead a high performance optical communication firm.
My experience is mainly based on large and established organizations. Hence, learning from Prof. Dushnitsky on the various dimensions of new venture creation and growth in Entrepreneurship, will show me his perspective on the trail I wish to follow as a founder. Desiring to build a sustainable company, I am looking forward to taking Strategy and Competitive Advantage, where I hope to learn how to create and maintain such an advantage. Learning how to identify entrepreneurial opportunities and how to exploit them where “Creating Values” was contemplated, will lay a solid basis for achieving these goals by myself.
In a world which is growing ever flatter, I find international exposure and experience important for the global company I wish to found. The Multinational Management major courses, such as Global Strategic Management, and participation in the Global Immersion Program will prove valuable in helping me understand other cultures which will be important when penetrating new markets. This international exposure will improve my ability to establish contacts with other nations, hence supporting my longer term career goal of rejoining the PMO.
Wharton’s mindset and student body imply numerous benefits. The exciting opportunity to participate in school’s management would contribute to the fruitful interaction between students and faculty. I plan to take part in the leadership development activities and the various student clubs to create strong friendships. These connections, combined with the great global alumni community, can be especially relevant as an eco system for the company I plan to start and for recruiting its management backbone.