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How a Personal Development Plan can help you achieve your career goals


Personal Development Plan

It can be easy to live at such a pace that there is very little time left for reflection. Between long working hours and busy social lives, we can often get stuck in a rut and not know how to progress. Personal development means the evolution of our skills, knowledge and experience, reflected in a happy and fulfilled personal and professional life. Creating a Personal Development Plan can be a great tool to help you out of your rut and into the life and career you are hoping for. At CareerWise, we believe it is possible to attain a career that allows you fulfilment and a great work – life balance. Here is our guide to how a Personal Development Plan can help you achieve your career goals.


What is a Personal Development Plan?

A Personal Development Plan is a way of focusing on your skills and qualities, allowing you to make the most of what you are good at. It can help you see your skill set in a new light, highlighting areas where you would like to learn new skills and areas where you could make more of your existing achievements. It is a way of assessing where you are, setting your goals, and focusing on what you need to do to make them happen. You will use it to identify anything that is inhibiting your progress, and set measurable targets to help you manage your own learning and growth. A PDP can be very useful in the context of your career, improving your employability, helping you track your progress, and even improving your mental wellbeing.


What is a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT analysis is a good way to start creating your PDP. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. These ideas can form a framework through which to view your personal development. Ask yourself questions for each area.

– What are my strengths?
– What resources do I have that are unique to me?
– What makes me stand out from the competition?
– How are my strengths viewed by others?
– What are my best achievements to date?

– What are my weaknesses?
– How are my weaknesses viewed by others?
– Which areas can I improve, and how?
– What is really holding me back?
– What are my bad habits?
– What is a genuine weakness and what is simply a lack of confidence?

– Are there suitable opportunities in the industry I am interested in?
– Is there a niche I could specialise in to make my offer more appealing?
– What contacts do I have to help me?
– Are there opportunities that are not yet advertised – could I speculatively contact potential employers?
– Does my current job provide any opportunities that would help send me in the direction I want to go in – ie could I help with a particular project, run an event, make contact with someone in the right department?

– What could threaten my success?
– Could lack of resources – money, time, effort – threaten my success?
– Could external circumstances – evolution of new technologies, lack of suitable jobs in the industry, my geographical location, too much competition – threaten my success?

A successful SWOT analysis will answer these questions honestly, even if the answers are not what you want to hear.


How to write a Personal Development Plan

All PDPs take a different format, and if you are completing one for work, you will likely be provided with a template. But the details will always be specific to you and your goals. Completing an initial SWOT analysis should allow you to identify what is getting in the way of your progress, reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, and pick out ways to move forwards. You should then set yourself goals. These should be SMART:

– Specific: precise, setting steps you need to take to get there, rather than vague wishes.
– Measurable: quantifiable, for instance, enrolling in a course within a time frame.
– Achievable: set goals you can realistically achieve within the time and money that you have.
– Relevant: make sure your goals relate to your overall aims, rather than distract you.
– Time-bound: set yourself deadlines, and split goals into short, medium and long term.

Next, break down your SMART goals into actions you can take to achieve each goal. Create an action plan, putting the goals you want to prioritise at the top. Detail how you will achieve each goal, whether this is putting aside specific time for study or work experience; contacting a mentor; completing a qualification or applying to a new job.

Finally, you should note how your PDP will keep track of your progress. When will you come back to it and assess your achievements?

Are you looking for a job in Ireland? 

CareerWise is Ireland’s leading specialist recruitment firm, based in Cork, Shannon, Galway, Mayo and Dublin and we can help you to find your ideal new job in Ireland. Many of our roles feature a hybrid element. We specialise in the Engineering, Supply Chain, Science/Pharma, IT and Accounting industries in Ireland, and we look forward to working with you.

Contact us online now or call us on +353 (0) 21 206 1900 to arrange a consultation.


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Cork Office

CareerWise Recruitment. EastGate Village, EastGate, Little Island, Cork.

Phone: +353 (0) 21 206 1900