Guide on Professional Development Plan Sample

A person standing in front of a computer screen

There are several components of a PDP:

1. Career objectives: What are your long-term career goals?

2. Skills assessment: What skills do you need to achieve your career objectives?

3. Developmental objectives: What specific skills do you need to develop in order to meet your career goals?

4. Training and education plan: How will you acquire the necessary skills?

5. Resources: What resources do you need to achieve your goals (e.g., money, time, support from others)?

6. Action plan: How will you implement your training and education plan?

7. Evaluation: Monitoring your progress toward meeting your goals.

There are many things to consider when developing a PDP. Professional goals may not be the same for everyone, so you’ll have to come up with what is important for you personally. For example, some people are interested in advancing their career, while others may be looking to improve their overall professional skills.

Action steps should be realistic and measurable. If you have a hard time coming up with specific details, your plan is probably too general. You could set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) if you need to be more specific.

Your plan should also address risks and barriers that may prevent you from achieving your goals, such as time constraints or lack of support from others. You should consider how these can be overcome.

One way to develop a PDP is to follow the SMART acronym:


S = Specific – What exactly do you want to achieve?

M = Measurable – How will you know when you’ve reached your goal?

A = Achievable – What is the likelihood of attaining your goal?

R = Relevant – Is this important to you and does it align with your plans for the future?

T = Time-bound – Is there a specific deadline you would like to reach your goal by?

Keep in mind that the term “professional development plan” is often used interchangeably with career plan, career portfolio or career map. A PDP typically focuses on the development aspect of your career (skills and education), whereas a “career plan” focuses on the more general aspects of your career, including your ideal job or future employers.

Similar to a PDP, a career map is typically short-term and can be used as a guide for setting goals for just one year. Career maps are often created using mind mapping software. A career portfolio typically encompasses everything you’ve done over the course of your career and is useful for job-seekers as an alternative to a traditional resume.



If you want, your plan can include past accomplishments and future goals. While it may be easier to begin with the end goal in mind (e.g., the type of work you’d like to do), reflecting on what you’ve already done and who you’ve worked with can help flesh out your plan. A self-assessment can be helpful in developing a PDP, as it helps to uncover your strengths and weaknesses.

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