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Take the time to reflect on your career goals throughout your career, not just at the start. This self-assessment checklist is one way to both reflect on and plan your career.


Career self-assessment checklist

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s important to me in my career? What do I want from it?

  • What are my personal goals? How are they complementary and where might they contradict with my career goals? What’s more important to me?

  • What do I want my career to offer me that I don’t get now?

  • What are my strengths? How are they transferable within this career or sector, or others? Where are my gaps? (Hint: a good way to do this is to look at the required skills and attributes in the job description for a role that is two or three years ahead of where you are now.)

  • Which companies do I want to work in and why?

  • Do I need to undertake training or other professional development? If so, have I the time, money and commitment?

  • Do I have career-related questions I can’t answer by myself? Would getting advice or support from a colleague or mentor help?

  • Would I be prepared to have a change to my responsibilities, type of work, location or pay to pursue a different path?

If you’re wondering about how to get ahead in your career or thinking of switching paths, take a look at the career paths of other geographers in our “I am a geographer” career profiles and Register of Chartered Geographers for inspiration.


Professional Development Plan

The answers to the questions above can support you in creating a Professional Development Plan, which is a career roadmap that supports you in achieving your career goals.

Your Professional Development Plan should include:

  • What your career goals are, e.g. Achieve Chartered Geographer accreditation in three years’ time. These goals should be written in a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely) way so that they are trackable. Consider prioritising them, or assigning them time periods, e.g. short-term (within a year), medium term (one to three years) or long-term (more than three years).

  • The specific steps and/or tasks you will take to achieve each goal, e.g. attend at least 20 hours external CPD this year, half of which to be technical; maintain a full record of my CPD for three years; keep my professional CV up-to-date with recent project achievements. Put these steps in order of priority and consider assigning them a (realistic!) deadline.

  • Identify which goals need resources – time, money, input from others.

  • Keep a record of what you complete. Once you’ve completed a set of tasks and reached a goal, it’s a good idea to evaluate your situation again using the self-assessment checklist.

Making reflection a regular part of your career planning will support you in planning and achieving goals at any stage of your career.

Your professional development plan will encourage you to regularly check-in about where you are now and where you’re going in the future. It will also help you to feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction when you complete the tasks and achieve your goals.


Further resources

The following sources may support you in preparing your Professional Development Plan:

You may also be able to draw upon resources that your employer provides as part of your performance appraisal process, such as competency frameworks, training and development plans and appraisal feedback.


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