These career planning tools are intended to help you and your manager collaborate on a plan to get you where you want to be, both in the short term and long term.

A career development plan is a written plan or schedule that sets forth, with some specificity, goals and actions that will aid in your overall career development. The plan should span a significant amount of time, most often 1 year. Reviewing progress on them each quarter with your manager would be a good way to ensure your career goals are being met.

They can address either building on exhibited strengths or further developing areas for growth in your skills set. The plan can help you meet developmental objectives for either improving your current performance or preparing you for positions of greater responsibility. Your career development plan isn’t a binding contract but is rather a flexible ongoing development plan that should be updated as often as needed. Initially, you can plan for a year-long time frame and make adjustments as necessary.

Use this as an opportunity to plan training and developmental experiences (training, conferences, project selection) to fulfill specific career objectives. Your plan can change from year to year. Its main purpose is to help you set reasonable goals, assess your strengths, and chart developmental activities and training.

Here are some steps you can take to get started on your career develop:

1    Gather data
Do some type of self-assessment (StrengthFinder, Edge Colors, Myers Briggs, etc) to gain self-awareness about your strengths and work style preferences.
Review past performance reviews and look for themes.
Review the Career Planning Worksheet.
2    Plan
Review gathered data and Career Planning Worksheet with your manager.
Draft career plan and review with manager.

3    Take action
Choose your conferences and training to align with your career development goals.
Seek out project work that allow you to fulfill your goals.
Plan to report back quarterly on your progress towards your goals.

Download: Career planning worksheet


Margaret Gould Stewart and Graham Jenkin have managed in a range of start-ups and large firms, agencies and in-house. Margaret is currently User Experience Director at YouTube and Graham was an inaugural "Great Manager" award winner at Google and currently works on product and design at AngelList.