How To Create your Own Individual Development Plan for the Public Sector

Everyone wants to grow in their career, but many employees rely on their employer to help them progress in their careers instead of creating their own career paths. But what if your employer isn’t making your career development a priority? What can you do to get from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow? A powerful tool in this journey is creating an individual development plan, a self-directed approach to career growth. This individualized self-development career plan allows you to take charge of your career trajectory, ensuring you're not solely dependent on your employer for advancement.

What is an Individual Development Plan? And How Does it Differ From an Employee Development Plan?

While it may sound like the same thing, an individual development plan (IDP) differs from an employee development plan.

An individualized self-development career plan is employee-led. It is a personal roadmap for your career that you—not your employer—create. You could choose to develop your career within your current organization or it could mean moving to a different organization.

An employee development plan is usually organization-led and aimed at upskilling the employee to meet the organization’s needs and goals.

The two could dovetail. If your employer supports your personal career goals, they may be happy to provide the relevant training and opportunities to help you reach it.

How an Individual Development Plan Benefits Both Employees and Employers

When you put a career plan into action, it can bring the following benefits:

  • Gives you purpose. Most human beings need a reason to get up in the morning. For you, a job may be one of those reasons. But if you’re stagnating in your job, it can deflate your sense of purpose. When you set career goals, it gives you something to work towards.  
  • Enhances your skills. An IDP typically involves a learning component. You may need to attend certain training courses or complete an advanced degree to move forward in your career.
  • Makes you more employable and promotable. As you grow in experience and skills, it increases your chances of being promoted within your organization and can make you more employable in the job market.
  • Boosts your motivation. Having career goals can inspire and motivate you in both your professional and personal life.

How Does an IDP Benefit Public Sector Employers?

Even though a self-development career plan is focused on your personal career growth, the organization also benefits. As you advance in knowledge and become more motivated, the public sector organization you work for benefits from a more skilled, engaged and productive employee. This, in turn, can lead to a better constituent experience.

How Can Public Sector Employees Create an Individual Career Development Plan?

To develop an individual career development plan, you need to determine:

  • A starting point: Where you are presently in your career.
  • A destination: Where you want to go in your career.
  • The gaps: The experience and skills you need to reach your destination.
  • The route: The steps you’ll take to close the skills gap.

6 Steps to Creating a Personalized Career Development Plan

1. Establish a Clear Vision

Think about where you would like to be in five, 10 or 15 years. Don’t be afraid to dream big. If you’re a junior accountant and you’d like to become chief financial officer, there’s no reason you can’t achieve it. Remember, every CFO was once where you are now.

2. Conduct a Gap Analysis

To develop a career plan, you need to do some research. What type of experience, qualifications and skills do you need to advance towards your career goal? Take into account the hard and soft skills you already have. If you’re switching to a new industry or a different career, what transferable skills do you possess and what skills do you need to acquire?  

3. Set Measurable Goals

Once you have a vision for your career and you’re clear on the steps you need to take to achieve it, it’s time to break it down into smaller milestones. Be specific and set a realistic timeframe for each one so that you can track your progress. Bear in mind that not every step is necessarily upward. At times you may need to make a lateral move for strategic reasons.

4. Discuss Your Career Goals with Your Manager

Ideally, you want your employer to be on board with your career plan. By sharing your career aspirations with your manager, it shows that you are driven to reach higher career goals. Most public sector organizations have employee training programs and your manager may be more than willing to support your growth within the organization.

5. Find a Coach or Mentor

Working with a coach or mentor can provide you with invaluable insight and guidance as you plot your career course.

Coaching can help you identify career gaps, set goals and hold you accountable to meet those goals. Working with a mentor who already occupies a position you aspire to or is an industry authority can provide practical advice to help you achieve your goals faster.

6. Review Your Progress

Lastly, keep your career development plan fluid, and don’t be afraid to shift gears. Review your progress at regular intervals and adjust the plan if necessary.

Key Takeaways

Being in control of your career path is often a better approach than relying on your employer for career advancement. By creating your own individual development plan, you can chart a course that takes you from where you are now to where you’d like to be in the future.

CPS HR Consulting can help put you on the right career development path. Call us at 916-263-3600 or fill in our online contact form and we’ll be in touch.

What can you do to get from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow? One powerful tool is an individualized self-development career plan.
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Melissa Asher

With over 24 years of experience in human resources, specializing in training and development, test administration, and recruitment, Melissa brings a wealth of practical expertise to her Senior Leader role. As a hands-on leader, she is responsible for the growth and development of CPS HR’s Training and Development and Executive Search Divisions as well as leading key business development activities.

About CPS HR Consulting

CPS HR Consulting is a self-supporting public agency providing a full range of integrated HR solutions to government and nonprofit clients across the country.  Our strategic approach to increasing the effectiveness of human resources results in improved organizational performance for our clients.  We have a deep expertise and unmatched perspective in guiding our clients in the areas of organizational strategy, recruitment and selection, classification and compensation, and training and development.