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Get personal in your career planning

This article is more than 12 months old

Having a personal strategic plan will help you develop and fulfil your career and life goals

It's called a personal strategic plan - the roadmap that guides you towards key transitions in your work life.

Never done that before? Don't beat yourself up over it - few people have.

It's important to note, however, that crafting a personal strategic plan is important in today's soft labour market, where digitisation and the demand for specialist skills - from compliance to cybersecurity - mean skill redundancies and job cuts.

And you may need to switch industries or jobs.

Statistics back up the need for big change: Last year, 13,440 workers lost their jobs.

The number is expected to be higher this year, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say told Parliament last month.

In an interview with The New Paper on Dec 1, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob gave a wake-up call to those who had lost their jobs amid economic woes.

"I know it's really very challenging, if you've been an engineer for years, to try to move to another sector," said Madam Halimah.

"But you will have to do that. Because this sector is producing fewer jobs, and manufacturing has become more automated."

So back to the personal strategic plan: Creating one will be tough as you ramp up towards a new industry or job.

Here's a four-step process to make the effort less daunting.


Use the downturn to evaluate your situation before the year ends. Set aside a morning of undisturbed time to reflect.

  • Happiness factor: Assess if you are satisfied with the way things are going in your work and life.
  • Personal goals: Think about your core beliefs. What activities in your life do you want to do more of - and what do you want to do less of?
  • Work goals: Consider some new companies you might aspire to work for. Where do you see yourself in your work, one, three and five years from now?
  • Skills gap: Think about the skills needed to meet your goals - or new job or industry requirements. What additional skills can you acquire that will likely let you stand out on the corporate scene?


Based on the information you have collected, create a one-page personal strategic plan, outlining your goals and steps to achieve them.

  • At the top of the page, write down your core beliefs and guiding principles.
  • Separate your career goals from your life ones and have timelines attached to them.
  • If there are companies you aspire to work for, gather information about them to determine if you really want to work there.
  • If you have to update your skills to get to where you want to go, include the possible courses you can take.


Give yourself a day or two to think through your roadmap. Then retrieve it and act.

  • Plan to achieve: Look over your plan. Ask yourself if it is realistic. List achievable goals. That way, when you hit your targets, you will be spurred on to do more.
  • Prepare your toolkit: Gather your educational and professional certificates - these may be lost if you have not been job-hunting for some time. You will need them for job applications.
  • Research well-written resumes online and write your own. Get a friend or mentor to critique it. Rewrite it.
  • Build your profile on LinkedIn: Employers now suss out your experience and credibility on this professional digital channel.
  • Pull in contacts: Gather e-mails and phone numbers of companies you hope to work for. Look up job opportunities on their website. Sign up at job portals like Jobs Bank. Send out three to five resumes a day, each tailored for that particular role.
  • Prepare your skills: Identify key courses to attend, especially those that tap on the SkillsFuture Credit. The courses need not strictly adhere to your work scope. Consider a core booster. For instance, presentation is a skill needed in most jobs. Sign up for a public-speaking course.


Give yourself enough time to see if your personal strategic plan is working for you. Your answers to the questions below will enable you to see what tweaks are needed.

  • After six months of working with your plan, are you on track to achieving your one-year goal?
  • At the one-year mark, are your longer-term goals still relevant?
  • At key moments: do important life events require you to make changes?

If all this sounds like hard work, it is. But if you want to make an impact in your career - particularly if it's a new industry or job - and have a fulfilling personal life, gaining clarity is a must. The key to having a satisfied life is to accomplish the things that are most important to you, and this is easier to do if you have a personal strategic plan.

This article was contributed by Right Management, the global career experts within United States-listed HR consulting firm, ManpowerGroup.