How to create effective goals and build a career development plan

5 min

There’s no better time to consider goal setting and career planning than near the start of a new year. Setting yourself career goals is important to ensure you have a clear focus for what you want to achieve to feel motivated and inspired to move forward in the right direction for your career and in your personal life. Goals and objectives give you specific direction and help you establish what is most important to you and keeps you accountable and on track for your own aspirations. 

In this article we talk through all factors to consider when focusing on your career development and effective goal setting. 

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Creating a Career Development Plan 

You can create a career development plan at any stage of your career, whether that’s later in your career where you’re focused on your end-career goals, the mid-senior level in your career or the earlier stages of your career. We often hear the term ‘career development plan’, but what do we really mean by this and how do you create one? 

A career development plan is a collection of both short- and long-term career goals, it focuses on your current role and achievements as well as planning for the future. Creating a career development plan takes a lot of thought and reflection to enable you to decide what you want out your career and what you will need to do or achieve to succeed. 

There are steps to take to create a clear plan for your own career development, it’s a great opportunity to establish what you want to achieve and how you can get to that point. Here are our seven steps to help you develop your career plan of action:  

How to reflect and evaluate your career

The opportunity to reflect and evaluate your career to date is an important part of the process of career planning. It enables you to establish what you have achieved, the experience you have gained and the skills that you have developed. This reflection allows you to understand what you have done well and the areas where you have overcome challenge or faced difficulties. This exercise can solely be a mental task, however it’s more beneficial to document your thoughts on paper. 

How to set yourself goals and objectives 

Think about what you want to achieve in both the short- and long-term stages of your career. Set yourself realistic and achievable goals and objectives while still pushing yourself and giving yourself a challenge. Setting goals gives you focus and purpose. Further into this article, we delve into the principles of goal setting and what you need to consider to create effective and achievable goals. 

What are your strengths and skills?

Establish the areas you excel the most, why is this? This will enable you to highlight your biggest strengths and key skills. This is an exercise you can do by yourself or reach out to your peers to find out where they believe your strengths lie. Which of these skills will help you develop your career as a leader or at a senior level position with accountability and high responsibility? 

What are your development areas? 

No matter what stage of your career, or how senior a leader you may be, there is always an opportunity to develop existing skills and learn new ones. Establish the development areas to focus on that will benefit your career growth. As a leader, there are certain skills that may be of benefit to delegate to others who are more skilled or experienced, rather than focusing on developing on those skills yourself. This is a great exercise to decide on the skills most beneficial for you to develop or seek further exposure to, and those that are not essential to your own career growth.

What is most important to you, your values, likes and dislikes? 

Decide what is most important to you in life and in work. This will help you decide the type of company you want to be part of in the long term, and the type of values and culture you are keen to avoid. How can you translate this to your current and future roles to ensure you live and breathe your values and align to the company you are part of.  

How will you get there – What training or qualifications are needed to succeed? 

To reach your career goals on a short term and long-term basis, there may be certain qualifications or training that is necessary. For certain professions and career paths, there are essential or desirable qualifications or formal training required to reach a senior or leadership level, ensure you do research into the potential training you may need to consider to reach your career goals.  

What will the end result mean to you and your life, both on a professional and personal level? 

If you achieve these goals, what impact will this have on your career and your personal life? Achieving certain career goals may bring career stability, dream role achievement, financial security, all of which would have a profound impact on personal and family life. Consider what your career goals will mean for you, having this as a focus will both inspire and motivate you to succeed to get the results you desire. 

Our recruitment experts know the impact new job opportunities can have on candidates lives when securing a new senior role. When at a senior level in your career, the impact of a new role can be life changing, with re-location often being an option for new career opportunities, there are many factors to consider and this is something our recruitment experts support candidates with across the globe. 

How to create effective goals

As highlighted by Locke and Latham, there are five principles of effective goal setting; clarity, challenge, commitment, feedback and complexity. Let’s explore those principles in more detail: 


To set yourself effective goals, it’s important to be clear in what you want to achieve. Having clarity and understanding of the goals you want to achieve will give you focus, it will also allow you to effectively measure the success of your goals. The SMART goal methodology is a great way to set clear, well defined and measurable goals. 

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Realistic

T – Timely 


It’s important for your goals to be realistic, while still pushing you out of your comfort zone and feeling challenged. Having goals and objectives that challenge you, yet are realistic and within your reach combined with hard work and focus, can be extremely motivating.  


This is key part of goal setting and without it, achieving your goals will not be possible. Achieving goals can be challenging and in order to stay focused, your commitment to the end result will play a crucial role in ensuring you remain motivated and inspired to overcome any challenges on the journey to achieving your goals. 


Goal setting can achieve short- and long-term results, it’s important to regularly review and track your progress against objectives and goals set. You can review your activity, behaviour and progress yourself, while also reaching out to colleagues or a manager for feedback on how they feel you are performing against your goals.

Task complexity 

Ensure you give yourself the best opportunity to achieve your goals in realistic timescales, managing the complexity and challenge in an effective way. Consider how much time you spend on more complex tasks, shorter bursts of activity will help you remain focused, especially when working on tasks that require more concentration and greater complexity. 

Book recommendations for Goal Setting 

  • The Workbook for Smart Goals
  • The Primer Goal Setting Method
  • Your Best Year Ever: A 5 Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals
  • Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide

At CSG Talent, not only do we support our teams with their own career development and opportunity to grow as individuals, managers and progress their career within our business, we also support candidates with their own career development, sourcing new opportunities at a mid to senior level. 

If you’re interested in exploring career opportunities at CSG Talent, click here – Or alternatively, if you are keen to source a new senior or leadership role within your industry, check our latest vacancies here

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