A few months back, I attended a professional workshop held by the Gold Coast Library Network called “YOU Are the Goal!: Career & Individual Development Planning.” So often we get stuck in our current jobs, not knowing how to progress. And, if you do want to make a career shift, how do you go about doing so? Here, I hope to summarize some of the presenters’ knowledge and ideas. The purpose of the talk was to help us craft an Individual Development Plan (IDP). An IDP is a written plan that highlights your career goals and outlines what steps you can take to achieve them. The great thing about an IDP is that it can be used to identify short term (one year), mid-term (two years), and long term (five years) career goals. Within each timeframe, think about your objective, what learning activities will get you there, any deadlines, the estimated cost, the learning success criteria, and lastly, give yourself time to reflect. It helps to really think about what you want out of your career and fosters a sense of self-awareness. Personally, as my master’s degree program comes to a close, I, too, will have to reflect on these points to advance my career.
When examining these areas for your IDP, the key is to think about what you are good at, what you’re passionate about, and what your organization needs. What are your goals and what areas do you want to improve? Have a discussion with your manager when creating an IDP. This is helpful when considering expanding your role in your current job. The idea is to identify your strengths, future goals, and along with your supervisor, look for development opportunities for your professional growth. But I also think an IDP could also be used as a personal roadmap as well, especially for new librarians. Keep in mind it is important to set SMART goals; goals that are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time- and resource-bound. In other words, your goals should be concise, produce results, be easily observed, achievable, and have a target date for completion. And, in terms of learning opportunities, here are a few suggested by the speakers: mentor someone, take a webinar, try job shadowing, volunteer, or improve on an existing procedure.
Hopefully this provided you with some good food for thought as you move through your library career.
Additional IDP resources (all include sample IDP forms):