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How To Use A Journal As A Career Planner

Careers are important to everyone, and I’m constantly planning the next stage in my career. However, it can be difficult to organize and keep planning for the next stage when career progression can take years to manage. That is where a journal can double-up as a career planner for you.

Here are several tips to turn your journal into a career development planner to help you get to that next step in your career.


1. Set Reasonable Career Goals

The first thing you need to do is set reasonable career goals. You can’t expect to be the CEO of your company in the next year, but you can expect to take on some more responsibility. Look at what you need to achieve for the next step in your career. Are there are any qualifications you need, experience you should have or perhaps you need to move companies? Look at these and start to set these items as goals to determine the bigger goal.

Every goal should have lots of mini-goals that should be part of the larger picture. By breaking up larger goals into smaller ones, you can really motivate yourself.

Writing goals into your career planner, also helps you to memorize them and focuses your efforts into achieving them.

To help you set goals, you should focus on the acronym, SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely). Every goal should have these elements put into it. For instance, having a goal that says “I will be CEO” isn’t very SMART. There’s no time aspect, and the attainability is questionable for some people. However, you could have, “I will gain my accounting qualification by December next year”. This is a small goal that has all the elements of a SMART goal.

If you would like to read more about SMART goals, you can do so here.


2. Create A Networking Diary

Sometimes it isn’t about what you know, but who you know. Therefore, you need to create a networking diary where you’re connecting with people who are able to support your career development. Some people that you might want to start connecting to include:


  • Industry experts/consultants.
  • Senior mentors within your company.
  • Hiring managers within your organization/competitors.
  • Recruitment consultants who specialize in your industry.
  • Small business owners.

There are several ways to network today with technology. You can attend business meetups or networking events. Or you can go to job fairs to speak to those who are hiring now or might need your services in the future. If you want to be more discreet, you can also use social media networks like LinkedIn.

You can also use your career development planner as a way of keeping track of meetings you have with these people. Make notes about what they think is important for your next career step, industry trends and other information that might be useful for your next application/interview.

career development planner


3. Record Important Information For Applications

Just as who you know is important, what you’ve done is more important to recruiters than what you know. Therefore, you need to show evidence that you can add value to the business in your next career move.

Between applications there might be many years of work. During this time you might have several projects that go on and any of these could showcase your good work. However, during those years you might forget important details or even projects that could be good ways to promote your skills.

Keeping a record in your career planner is a great way to document what you’ve done. In your career planner you should keep details such as:


  • What did you have to do?
  • What challenges did you face?
  • The strategy you undertook to ensure the job was completed.
  • The results in measurable terms (i.e. saved the company 32%).

If you can, get copies of physical evidence of all the projects you’ve been involved in and what exactly you’ve done. When you apply, you might find others have a different opinion of what you did and this can undermine your application unless you have documented evidence of your achievement.


4. Use Your Career Planner To Create An Employee Brand

Nowadays, everyone has to have a brand, it’s how you create a need for your services and develop potential for being a superstar in your industry. Employee brands start in your workplace, but they can also go online. In today’s modern market, if you want to be moving fast, you need to be using your career planner to start developing an online brand.

You can start by creating a blog. Your blog should hold useful information that is relevant to your work. For instance, you could create content about the latest industry trends, new technology or perhaps helpful advice for those who might need it.

As you promote your blog, you’re going to grab the attention of those who work in the industry. This can help you network further afield and could prompt people to contact you about opportunities. A blog is a great way to showcase knowledge too, and other soft skills that are often desired by recruiters.

However, running a blog is challenging. A career planner can help you to determine what to publish, and when, and help you manage other aspects of the promotion system. You can also use the planner to record special moments in your blog’s life that can be used in applications for future career moves.

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Make Sure Your Career Planner Book Is Working For You

When you have a career development planner, you can see real improvements in the progression of your professional career. You can see that actions you’re taking at work, and that the sacrifices and investments you’re making are having a positive impact on your path to success.

However, you need to make sure that you are making the most of your career planner book. That is why you need to follow the four tips above to help you refine your career development and be on the ladder to a better future now.

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