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Move forward with career plans Developing your career

After taking stock of where you are now and what you've achieved you can think about how you want to move forward using the following techniques.

Produce a SWOT analysis

Look at your goals in terms of a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. This analysis helps to focus on the main issues to consider and aim for a specific goal that’s achievable. Keep responses simple; use a SWOT analysis grid to organise your thoughts.

Example SWOT analysis grid


  • What do you do well?
  • What do other people see as your strengths?
  • Analyse your skills, values and interests


  • What areas need development?
  • What careers should you avoid?


  • What possibilities are open to you?
  • What resources do you have?
  • Who can help you?


  • What might cause you difficulties?
  • What responsibilities do you have?
  • What might restrict you?

Once you've identified what's feasible, start to prioritise and decide what to achieve first.

Produce a wish list

A wish list of what you'd like to achieve in the long and short term will help you identify what's possible and prioritise your goals.

Produce an action plan

An action plan, like the example below, breaks your goals down into smaller, more specific steps in order to make them more achievable. It can help to

  • recognise what you want to achieve in the long term
  • consider what steps to take in the short term.

My action plan - goal, a degree within 6 years

Example action plan


  • Need to do 60 credits per year
  • Allocate realistice time for study, i.e. 18 hours per week


  • Do breakdown of typical week
  • Note best and worst time of day for study
  • Schedule in 18 hours using as much 'best time' as possible. Think about which study tasks to tackle during difficult times e.g. watching course videos

Resources to help

  • Tom, my line manager to negotiate some study leave and/or flexible working hours
  • Clare, to add key family commitments to timetable, e.g. parents' evening
  • Parents, to ask for help with children


  • Talk to Tom during appraisal on 10 November
  • Talk to Clare next weekend while children are at swimming lessons and do timetable
  • Ask mum and dad over for a meal next week

Review your progress

Monitor your progress by checking your plan from time to time. Identify what you’ve achieved and revise targets if necessary. If you change your mind about your goal, revisit your original plan to make necessary adjustments.

Remember action plans need to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based).

If you want to explore career opportunities, take a look at Jobs and careers: sources of information and try the interview simulator.

Need to make a change?

If you’re in a situation you feel you need to change then you should work for change. First try to improve the situation you’re in. Where this isn’t successful you’ve three options.

  • Change yourself. Examine your own attitudes, behaviour, ambitions, skills and life style. Consider how, if you changed any of these, your situation might improve.
  • Live with it. Devise a strategy to minimise the aspects of the situation you don't like and maximise those you do.
  • Leave. Find a constructive way to move away from the situation that causes you difficulties.

Once you have made your initial plans, set a date to review your development to keep yourself on track.

Last updated 3 months ago