What does an action plan include?

There are lots of different ways to write an action plan (see also the internet links below). We suggest you keep it simple to start with: use the headings below and think about each of the points listed.

1. Where am I now?

Here you list things such as:

  • What you are doing at the moment (school, paid or voluntary work, gap year, and so on)
  • Your education and qualifications
  • Other achievements
  • Your interests and skills
  • Your thoughts and ideas about your future career
  • What you have already found out about any careers you are interested in

2. My aims

Where you want to be. This might be a job, getting into a specific career, or an educational aim (for example getting onto a course).

If you are already fairly sure about the career you want to go into, you can plan how to get into it.

If you are not sure, then your aim here could be simply to find out more information about different careers you may be interested in. Once you have done the research, you can make an informed decision and plan your next steps.

Your school or college may have access to Jed, the Job Explorer Database. You can use Jed to find out about you. Do one of the quizzes and Jed will ask you a number of questions about your school subjects, interests, likes, and dislikes.


Think about the following:

  • Where am I now?

  • Where do I want to be?

  • How will I get there?

One of the most important things about career aims is to be specific and realistic.

For example, you might say "I want to train as a hairdresser. In 10 years' time I would like to have my own salon." – rather than "I want to be a rich and famous hairdresser." Or you might say "I want to compare architecture and structural engineering to decide which career suits me best." – rather than "I want to decide what work I’ll be doing for the rest of my life."

Specific and realistic aims will help you decide on specific and realistic next steps. And you will know when you have achieved them.

3. How will I get there?

Once you have worked out what your aims are, decide your next steps. For example:

  • What information you need and how you will find it
  • What you need to do: such as talking to someone, listing the good and bad things about different jobs or career areas, applying for courses or jobs
  • Include target dates for completing each step and who could help you. Remember to be realistic about what you can achieve and how much time you have to do things.

Also include a review date, for example in three months' time. This is when you will check how well you're doing towards reaching your aims.

Take a look at a blank action plan, which you can print out.

And here is an example of a different type of action plan. This one includes some extra headings that can help with writing letters and filling in application forms.

Useful websites

Prospects – Find work experience
This website is aimed at graduates. But it has useful general information about finding work experience and how it can help to achieve career aims. Finding work experience could be a good action step to include in your career action plan. It is a way to make contacts and to find out whether you will like a job.
NCVO – How to volunteer
Think about including volunteering in your career action plan. It can be a great way to get experience and will look good on your CV. Like work experience, volunteering is a good way to find out whether you will like a job. This website has lots of information about volunteering opportunities.

Last updated 23 February, 2017