Top Tips for effective career action planning


Image taken from the “At my Best”cards – Be playful and stay positive with your career action planning! 

Celebrating small steps along the way
Once you have worked through the goal setting, reflection on your strengths and skills, exploration of options, it is time to write down key actions to move you forward with your career plan. Ensure that you break big goals in to small steps and celebrate completing each action you take. Even just ticking it off your list can be satisfying and help you to maintain momentum. Bigger celebrations or rewards can be built in when you have reached specific milestones.

TIP TWO: Get supporters and build your peer network
It helps to know you are not alone with your job search or clarifying the direction you want to take, others are in a similar situation. Surround yourself with like minded friends and peers who can help you to stay positive and share ideas with you. Join a group which meets regularly. For Postgraduates at the University of Birmingham we run the Postgrad Careers Club which meets once a month. In addition to friends and peers, build your network of professional supporters, get a mentor and speak to a careers adviser.

TIP THREE: Keep adding to the “funnel”
Make sure you do regular activities and diverse activities to achieve your goal. Think about what you want to come out of the funnel and what mix of activities needs to go in. Develop new skills in line with your career interests, do some networking and build in time to research job opportunities.

TIP FOUR: Link new habits to existing ones
The best way to stick to a new habit to ensure you regularly work on your plan is to attach new habits to existing ones. For example Postgraduates wanting to combine writing their dissertation with searching for a job can set aside 30 minutes per day of their routine to research jobs websites or write applications. Set a regular time to do this, and build career planning in to the overall plan for completing your dissertation.

TIP FIVE: Commitment and accountability
If you are lucky enough to be working with a professional coach then they will certainly help you to commit and be accountable, knowing that you have regular meetings  to review progress means you are more likely to stick to agreed actions. If you don’t have a coach then find other ways to share your action plan with others, tell your friends or peers what your actions for this week are. It’s also useful to share what you think might get in your way to achieve your goals, pre-empting barriers to carrying out actions can help you overcome these potential blocks.

TIP SIX: Develop a Growth Mindset
Develop a growth mindset rather than a fixed approach, remember we can all learn and grow from experiences. As we work through any plan we build our experience, the unexpected can happen and opportunities can appear out of the blue. Use experiences both positive and negative as an opportunity to grow and develop. Don’t limit yourself with a fixed approach. It is good to have a plan which is flexible and evolving, with you growing and developing as you move forward. See the previous blog on resilience which references the work of Carole Dweck on Growth Mindset: Resilience and Teams – Coaching Connections

TIP SEVEN: Stay Buoyant and have fun!
You will experience good days and bad days when job searching, looking for that promotion or wanting to find that spark of interest to clarify your career direction. Find ways to stay positive and build your resilience. Be playful with the plan and have fun! Being playful is just one strength which will help you when career action planning. Think about playing to other strengths to get to where you want to be. More on playing to your strengths in a blog soon and you can find out more about “At My Best” cards at the Work Positive website:

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