As a professional in any sector, it’s important to keep up-to-date with your career development. This is why you’ll need to make a CPD plan. (Continuing Professional Development). Whilst it does take time, CPD Plans are great ways to identify and develop your skills in order to reach your career goals.
What do I want/need to learn?
Assessing your current career situation is a great place to start with your CPD plan. Where am I? Where do I want to get to? These are the questions you need to be asking yourself in order to identify the areas in which you want to develop. You need to summarise what you are currently doing in your career, and use it to plan future career milestones you’d like to achieve. Create smaller milestones and check-in points so that you can review your development and see if you are hitting your personal targets. So think about:
- Steps you are going to take over the next few years that will bring you closer to your career goals
- What specific skills, knowledge, and experience you need to develop in order to achieve these goals
- What activities you are going to do to fulfil the goals
It’s important that you are being honest with yourself in this step to get the best out of your plan. What does success really mean to you? You need to understand your motivations to succeed; do you feel like you are succeeding in your current job? It’s OK to think ‘big’ – but just be smart about it. Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. SMART.
What will I do to achieve this?
So now you’ve identified what you want or need to learn, you need to plan how you’re going to do this. This step is important because it helps you identify the professional skills and abilities you need to help you reach your goals; therefore enabling you to plan new learning and development opportunities that are relevant to your professional development. Consider how you will know if you have achieved this goal – will you gain a qualification? Will you be able to manage a team?
For example, if you’re an Assessor and one of your goals is to eventually become an Internal Quality Assurer, you’re going to need the relevant IQA Qualification. Researching this qualification, the requirements necessary to enrol on to the course, and the criteria for the job once qualified can also be a helpful step in this process.
Remember, when you’re defining your activities, make sure they are clear and detailed. So you’ll need to state the actual course/conference/training session you would like to attend.
What resources or support will I need?
Now you’ll need to consider what’s going to help you complete a certain goal. Going back to the example of being an Assessor with the goal of becoming an IQA, you would need support from your Assessor. In terms of resources, you’ll need to use the online support materials provided when you enrol onto the course, and perhaps use wider research by doing your own web searches. However, for some courses, there may be textbooks and study guides available. Watching videos on the likes of YouTube may be deemed supportive. Only you will know what you need.
What will my success criteria be?
When will you consider this to be a successful outcome? As we mentioned before, think about what success will really mean to you. So again using the previous examples, the success criteria for an Assessor wanting to become an IQA might be when they are qualified. Or, it might be when they actually get an IQA job. It is entirely down to you – it’s your plan, your professional development, and therefore, your future.
Your ‘milestone dates’ include:
- Start Date;
- Target Dates for review and completion;
- Actual Completion Date
Of course, you will only be able to fill two of these sections in when planning your CPD. The actual completion date won’t be filled in until that time. However, you can fill the target date for which you’d like to have completed this by!
Be realistic with your timings. It’s OK if you don’t meet that achievement by the target date you set yourself; that’s why it’s called a CPD plan. Plans don’t always happen the way we thought they would.
So after you’ve filled all of these sections in, your CPD plan should be in a table that looks something like this:
We hope this helps! For more advice on CPD, take a look at our post on 9 Ways to Keep your CPD Record Up To Date.