How to Develop an Effective Career Development Plan with a Mentor

A career development plan is necessary to determine the roadmap to success. Take note of these 6 steps to create an effective strategy with a mentor and excel.

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Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. When it comes to professional growth, a career development plan plays a major role in determining the path and the timeline adopted to achieve long-term career goals.

To foster healthy professional development for their staff along with institutional development, organisations today are heavily investing in workplace mentoring programs.

Getting mentors involved in creating specific career development plans empowers organisations to foster effective employee upskilling, engagement, and retention.

As a professional when you enrol in a well-designed mentorship program, you not only gain knowledge but also pick up certain characteristics of a mentor that help you excel in your career.

The value that a mentor brings to career development is priceless. That's why it’s always beneficial to invest in one while creating a career development strategy.

Let's take a look at the 6 vital steps to be included in an effective career development plan with the help of a mentor.

What is a Career Development Plan?

A career development plan (CDP) is an action plan written to define short-term as well as long-term goals for professional growth.

A typical career development plan will include these critical sections:

• Professional goals and aspirations
• Current skills and talents
• Development opportunities
• Weaknesses and obstacles
• Paths and road map to success

A career development plan is meant to be flexible enough to present a professional with multiple paths at milestone stages. Thus a dynamic plan encourages a person to explore various growth opportunities.

The role of a mentor in a career development plan is to share their knowledge and experience with the mentees to not only set better goals but to also choose the right paths.

A mentor could even guide the mentees in overcoming their weaknesses and roadblocks to help them succeed in their professional lives.

They can either use mentoring platforms to facilitate group mentoring or use live sessions and in-person coaching for one-on-one mentoring.

6 Vital Steps to Create a Successful Career Development Plan

A well-designed career development plan not only identifies your destination or goal but also presents a strategy to achieve that goal.

Here are the 6 crucial steps to creating a successful plan:

Step 1: Assess Your Current Position

The first step in creating an effective career development plan is to scan the current position. This assessment should address several elements including personal interests, present skill level, values, and personality.

This assessment can be designed as a two-fold process.

At stage one, the professionals complete a self-assessment survey where they scan their own abilities and challenges.

In the second stage, the manager or the supervisor uses tools and assessment techniques to determine an employee’s skill level.

The sales recruitment team check the command of prospective candidates on different sales CRM tools and their convincing powers while selling product and services to the customers.

Once the answers are recorded from both parties, the HR manager can segment professionals based on their strengths and propose the most suitable career opportunities.

This step serves as a firm foundation on which every individual can build their career development plan.

Step 2: Determine the Goals

The destination determines the path taken to achieve it. When writing a career development plan, it is very important to set specific and achievable goals.

Based on the assessment, determine long-term goals and short-term goals which serve as milestones in the career development plan.

For example, while a long-term goal is set for 5 or 10 years, short-term goals are set for every 1 or 2 years.

This is where the mentor steps in. They can guide the mentee in setting SMART long-term and short-term goals.

Goal setting makes it possible to focus on skills that matter and set the pace at which you should move forward.

Step 3: Match Mentors by Career Level

For a career development strategy to be successful, it is critical to match aspiring professionals with the right mentors and the relevant program.

Mentorship programs can be of different types like:

• One-on-one mentoring
• Group mentoring
• Job shadowing
• Peer-to-peer mentoring
• Cross-training and stretch assignments

Based on skill level and goals, the HR team can determine what kind of mentorship program is most suitable for each individual.

Today we have advanced mentorship management tools that can efficiently match the mentees with the right mentors and pave the path to a successful career.

Step 4: Define a Mentor’s Role

A mentor can guide and assist a mentee in numerous ways to execute their career development plan. To ensure a successful partnership between a mentor and the mentees, it is necessary to clearly define the mentor’s roles and responsibilities.

Mentors can guide the mentees in growing their network, suggest the most suitable career options, help bridge the skill gap, and so on.

Ideally, a mentor should play the role of a coach or a guide who can help mentees overcome their challenges and become the best version of themselves.

At the same time, the mentor should also understand their boundaries and allow the mentee to explore opportunities and solutions by themselves. This would give their confidence a great boost.

Step 5: Define the Resources

A career development plan is inefficient if you do not define the road map and the resources required to make the plan successful.

While a trained mentor can guide mentees in chalking out an effective road map, the HR team can arrange for the resources required to execute the career development strategy.

Some of the important resources would include:

• Webinars and seminars
• Knowledge-based digital resources
• Online courses
• Collaboration with educational institutions

The choice of resources depends on the kind of skill development a professional requires to reach their career goals. For example, if you're a web designer, it's important to know what the options of web design certification courses are as a provision to start or develop a career.

This step also is vital for budgeting for the mentorship program and finding ways to control business spending when undertaking the mentorship program.

For instance, you can use free tools to reduce your expenses. An online course creation platform like Thinkific lets you create 3 online courses completely free.

Step 6: Measure and Analyse Employee Progress

Once a professional completes their training and mentorship program, the last step in a career development plan is to measure and assess the progress.

The best approach would be to track the progress using a Performance Log and assess the results.

For instance, if a mentor is training a team in ecommerce business marketing, they can present the mentee with real-life situations and allow them to utilise their skills and execute the given set of tasks.

By maintaining a detailed record of all the observations, it becomes easy to measure how well a career development plan has been executed.

If there are gaps, the right modifications can be made to facilitate greater success.

Launching a reverse mentoring program can also be very beneficial in assessing the progress of a mentee and boosting their morale.

Get Ready to Create an Actionable Career Development Plan

A well-thought-out career development plan is essential to optimise professional growth.

Whether it is workplace mentoring or individual mentoring, you can utilise platforms like PushFar to best match mentees with suitable mentors for effective career development.

When you sit down to create your career development strategy, go ahead and base it on the steps discussed above. When planned systematically, you can achieve your goals and milestones in a timely manner.

Author Bio

Gaurav Sharma is the founder and CEO of Attrock, a results-driven digital marketing company. He also contributes to top publications like HuffPost, Adweek, Business 2 Community, TechCrunch, and more.

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