6 Steps To Creating A Professional Learning & Development Plan

A great professional development plan requires: reflection, planning and finding ways to keep yourself accountable. This resource is intended to be a guide and encouragement. If you find yourself needing a colleague to help you along the way, reach out at one of the monthly networking sessions to find encouragement and help along the way.

Step 1: A Good Plan

Don’t just make a plan. Make a good plan. Start with the big picture.

  • How can you grow in your professional practice?
  • How is the profession changing?
  • What do skills do you need personally?
  • What are some of the current or emerging issues in your organisation/department?
  • What are current or emerging issues with the individuals you serve?
  • Make sure your plan reflects local, regional and national initiatives.
  • Include reflective activities as a part of your learning and growth.
  • How will you document your learning outcomes?

Step 2: Clarifying Questions

Take the time to consider and frame out your plan using the core competencies for Career Development Practitioners.  


Do I have the attitudes necessary to do this work? Am I: insightful, honest, open-minded and results-oriented? Do I need to focus on some areas of personal development to build these attitudes?

  • How does my practice impact on the community I serve?
  • Based on data, what do I know about our communities needs?

What skills do I have? Do I need to update my skills in order to document client interactions and progress, accommodate diversity, collect and analyze information, or convey information to others?

  • What skills/knowledge do I need in my current role?
  • What skills/knowledge will I need to be effective in that role?
  • How can I improve or strengthen my practice?

What are my knowledge gaps? Do I need to refresh what I learned in the past? Do I have a solid understanding of the career development models and theories, the change process, transition stages and career cycles? Do I understand the components of the career planning process and the organizations and resources for career development and community services?

  • How can I work with others to address my goals?
  • How do local, regional and national goals/initiatives impact upon my learning goals?
Ethical Practice

Is my work guided by the Code of Ethics? Am I using the Ethical Decision Making Model to resolve ethical challenges that are arising between myself and: my organization, with colleagues and with people I serve.

Step 3: Create A Template

Create an outline or template for your plan. Start with the outcomes you are looking for first. Second look for activities and actions that will get you there.





Step 4: Strategies

What strategies/activities will you use? What is available and what do you need to seek out?

Reading, learning, training, community of practice, personal research, webinars, mentorships …

What blogs should I be reading?

What online newsletters and magazines should I subscribe to?

What sessions might I attend?

  • Information sessions
  • Communities of Practice
  • Working Groups

Consider how you can embed learning and professional development into your day, week, month, quarter and year.

Be strategic by matching your needs with resources and activities with a mind to continuous learning and development.

Step 5: Evaluate Your Plan

  • Do the goals and the plan reflect my needs as well as those of your organisation and community?
  • Does my plan reflect new learning and growth, not just time and effort?
  • Are my goals clear?
  • Have I used facts, information and data to determine my goals?
  • Do I have collaborative activities in my plan?
  • Does my plan include reflection on the outcomes of my plan?
  • Have I included how I am going to assess myself and the plan so that I know is it is working for me?
  • Have I identified the evidence I will gather and where I will keep it (computer file, binder, journal, personal blog)?

Step 6: Smart Goals

specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely

  • How can I embed the professional development strategies I choose into workday?
  • Do I wish to share/discuss part or all of my professional development plan with the person I report to?
  • How will I know I have accomplished my learning goals?
  • How will I judge the quality of my work?
  • Tools for self-assessment
  • Where am I in my career cycle/career dimensions?
  • What motivates and demotivates me?
  • What are my values, skills and competencies?
Fail to plan and you plan to fail.


P.O. Box 21157

St. John's, NL

Canada A1A 5B2


(709) 765-2182