I know that most VAs are unaware of the term Career Development Plan. I, myself, hardly encountered it until I got too serious about building a long term VA career. I know that you didn’t shift gears from a traditional work environment (aka corporate) to become a work-at-home professional for nothing. Those who have already benefitted from the perks of working from home are no longer turning back as they swear that being a VA is a career of a lifetime. And this is where a career development plan comes in.

If you want to build a long term career in this industry, it is important to set a map of that career over a period of time. Doing so will give you the heads up on how to go about that direction or where you have set your career to go. In fact you should not be without it.

Navigational map

Ever wonder how those successful VAs seem to glide seamlessly through their career? You follow them around for a short period of time; then their career seems to take off too quickly that you missed how it happened. Well, it could be that they have mapped out a career plan to begin with. That is the beauty of having a career plan; it helps you stay focused on your goal and keeps you from being side tracked. How often do you feel tempted at copying somebody else’s career just because he or she seems to have a promising career that is entirely different from yours?  When this happens you find yourself always on day 1 — learning something new and working your way up again to gain career traction.

With a career development plan every single thing you do moving forward your career comes together to achieve a specific goal – “eye on the ball” so to speak.

  • You plan according to who you want to be in your career in the years to come
  • You will be able to specifically choose among the many trainings out there that will fit your plans
  • You will network effectively by choosing the kind of mentors and colleagues that can help materialize your career plan
  • You become a specialist in your field rather quickly, and
  • You are able to raise your market value just as fast

Without a career plan, you will just be moving along a direction that may not be goal-oriented and not of your real desire. Three years past your career launch and you remain stuck; working on projects always on beginner level. You have not taken your career at least up a notch, and find yourself in a pit of self-doubt and jealousy of other’s career.

How to create a career development plan

It doesn’t have to be hard when setting out a career plan for yourself. While there is a standard process on how this is done, I’d recommend keeping it simple and practical. The idea is to make your major goal and mini goals reachable over a period of time.

Here are the simple steps I recommend to jumpstart you in creating a career plan . . . .

  1. Decide on a timeframe on which you want to anchor your plan on. Is it 15, 10 or 5 yrs. or shorter? Because your plans may change as you go along, why not start with a timeframe you can commit to and just adjust as necessary? However be careful in deciding on a shorter timeframe and then load it up with actionable plans that aren’t practical or are overwhelming. Balance is key.
  2. After deciding on a timeframe, start with the main goal and work backwards. What is it that you want to achieve at the end of the timeframe? Would you like to be a coach by end of a 5-yr plan, or put up a VA agency perhaps? When setting a main goal, ask yourself why you want this. It is for the money, a chance to help other VAs, or for recognition? Whatever that is make sure it’s a good reason and enough for you to overcome all the challenges along the way.
  3. Speaking of actionable plans, you might want to check out the resources you have at hand. Actionable plans means taking up courses to rev up your skills, going on networking events to meet new contacts and doing extra time to build your professional business. These all require time and money. Which ones are you willing to do with given your timeframe? Plot these out in your plan.
  4. Have a bias for action. Avoid overthinking at this point and just do it. No matter how well panned your plans are if you fail to take the action steps that are necessary then nothing will happen.

There you go! I hope this will prompt you to make your own plans in order to have a clearer guide on how to grow your business or career.