article image
Career blogsCareer tools

Develop your career plan

Would you go on a long holiday or build a house without a plan? No matter if you have been working for several years already or have just started, having a career plan is a good idea.

It is a dreaded question in job interviews, but also very relevant to finding an honest answer for yourself: Where do you see yourself in three, five or ten years from now? Most people change their career multiple times in their life. The best way to be prepared for all situations is to have a plan. This doesn’t mean you need to know exactly where, and in which position you will work; the goal is to know your general aim. This will help you steer your career and keep going in the right direction, without dismissing surprises or new adventures that arise unexpectedly.

A career plan is not a one-time action, it is a continuous process that requires adjustments and dedication. It considers your current situation, skills and experiences; your interests, values and priorities; your career goals and the actions you intend to take.

Set up your plan
To start, define for yourself which values you are looking for in a job; what your strengths are; and what tasks you enjoy. Then systematically look through jobs and career paths that could fit this description. Based on these career paths define which extra skills, experience and knowledge network you will need to achieve this, and how you can achieve it. Finally, set up a rough plan of when you will achieve this. If you are about to start your first job, then it is good to do this before you start applying. If you are already working, it is still good to sit down and get these things clear for yourself.

Make it a regular event
It may be easy to neglect, forget or repress, but it is very important to regularly reflect on your current situation and the path you want to follow. Put it in your diary, for example once a year an extended meeting with yourself, and shorter recaps during the year. Once you sit down ‘with yourself’, reflect on the time that Develop your career plan 5 Develop your career plan Would you go on a long holiday or build a house without a plan? No matter if you have been working for several years already or have just started, having a career plan is a good idea. LIFE SCIENCES CHEMISTRY FOOD PHARMA has passed. What have you achieved so far? How did last year go? Do you still have the same values, wishes and needs regarding your work? What do you like or dislike about work? What is important to you? What does success mean to you? Maybe your personal situation has changed, and with it the requirements a good position must be fulfilled for you. It is also important to find something that engages and motivates you. Try to determine what you really need from your work. It may be that you want to make a difference about something; being financially independent; helping others or any other reason that gets you out of bed.

Set goals Setting goals for yourself can help you to be more successful. What are your short-term (e.g. within a year) and long-term (three, five or ten years) career goals? You can use the SMART method to describe your goals in a Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound manner. If you would like to expand your network to increase your career possibilities, an example of a SMART goal could be: “I want to go to one networking event per month for the next twelve months to increase my network”. By making your goal specific and measurable in a certain timeframe, you will be able to measure and reach your goal. This is not possible for the vague goal “I want to network more”. It also helps to write down your goals and share them with colleagues and friends.

Stay curious – explore opportunities
Never stop learning. This can mean obtaining a certificate to increase your job options, soft skill seminars, mentoring, MOOCs, and any other possibilities that open up to you. Stay engaged and be brave enough to step out of your comfort zone. Not every goal or learning opportunity has to be uncomfortable, but challenging yourself will help you grow personally and professionally.

Keep a record & celebrate achievements
Don’t forget to recognize, celebrate and reward yourself for achievements! You can also keep a record of your accomplishments. This will be useful for updating your CV, and it will also help you to work towards your next career goal.

Stay flexible
Remember that your plan is not set in stone. If a great opportunity outside your scope arises and matches your values, needs and wishes – go for it even if it means leaving the original path. You can’t always oversee all options or opportunities in advance. You can always adapt your plan based on your current priorities. Don’t lose focus. Often you need to take side steps to gain skills and resources. This doesn’t mean you are not following your overarching direction anymore. Don’t lose sight of your objective in the process. In order to stay true to yourself, check in with yourself regularly and be honest with yourself.

Good luck with your next career step!

Back to the overview

Stay up to date with the latest news and jobs

Would you like to receive the latest jobs, career advice and/or news about BCF Career Events and courses in your e-mail box? 

Sign up for the BCF newsletter

Create a job alert

Do you want to receive the latest industry trends & developments in your e-mail box?

Sign-up for the free BiotechNEWS magazine


Upcoming events

Dutch Medicines Days

Dutch Medicines Days

  1. Oss
  2. 16 - 17 October 2024

The premier annual conference that unites professionals in pharmaceutical sciences

BCF Career Event

  1. Ghent
  2. 28 November 2024

Connecting employers to job seekers in Life Sciences

Innovation for Health

Innovation for Health

  1. Rotterdam
  2. 3 April 2025

Leading conference for key players in Health & Life Sciences!


BiotechNEWS & Life Sciences

BiotechNEWS & Life Sciences

  1. Free download!

The magazine for the Dutch Life Sciences sector

Spotlight employers

CLS Services
Hyphen Projects uses cookies to remember certain preferences and align interests.
By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.