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Develop your career: Personal development plan (PDP)

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Personal development planning or PDP is a structured framework you can use to:

  • become aware of skills you have
  • identify and develop skills you need
  • work out what you want to achieve and how to achieve it
  • focus on potential study, career and personal development options and goals
  • develop a source of information
    • for CVs, job applications and interviews
    • to support appraisals at work
    • to demonstrate your readiness for promotion or for development opportunities

"PDP supports the idea that learning is a lifelong and life-wide activity. The process of PDP can strengthen the capacity of learners to reflect upon their own learning and achievement and to plan for their own personal, educational and career development. This is a core learning process, required throughout the education system and in many employment and continuing professional development contexts."

- Personal development planning: guidance for institutional policy and practice in higher education. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), February 2009.

You may come across a PDP process as part one of your level one modules. If you're not introduced to PDP via your level one module(s), or are starting at a different level or between modules, you may find it useful to look at the PDP process and resources.

What's it all about? This video introduces you to the Personal Development Planning process and highlights how it can be used to develop different aspects of your life. 2 minutes 40 seconds

What is Personal Development Planning?

Personal development planning is a process, which can help you to achieve your goals in three key areas.

  • Your Career and employability
  • your Study and
  • your Personal development.

The time and effort you invest in planning around these areas will enable you to continue developing effectively throughout your life.

So, what does Personal Development Planning involve? There are five stages.

  1. Identify – First identify your strengths, the skills you wish to develop and then set yourself realistic goals for each area you wish to focus on: careers and employability, study, or personal development. Are there smaller short-term goals that will lead to your larger goals?
  2. Plan – Plan what resources you need and when you intend to work on the goals that you’ve set. Think about how much time you have available each week. Be realistic to ensure your plans are achievable.
  3. Action – Carry out the tasks you’ve set yourself for each goal, and be aware of any new skills that you’re picking up along the way.
  4. Record – Record how the process is going: the progress you’ve made and the skills you’re gaining. Where might you need to develop further? Recording your insights will help to inform your CVs, job applications and developmental reviews. It may also reveal other aspects involved in achieving your goals.
  5. Review – Take a step back, collate everything you’ve recorded and review what you‘ve learnt. You should be more aware of your skills and also be able to identify the next area or skill for development.

Remember that this process is flexible. You may identify new areas for development at any time, or realise that you’ve gained a new skill through your work or day-to-day activities. It's important to record what you’ve achieved and use each stage of the process to help you develop further.

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