How to Progress in Your Career with a 5-Step Plan


For most people, staying stagnant in their careers is less than ideal. It leaves many feeling bored, unchallenged, and unsatisfied. 

How does one combat those negative feelings toward an industry they love?  Through career progression. 

But what is career progression? And how does one plan for it? 

We’re sharing our 5-step plan on how to progress in your career so you never feel unchallenged or unsatisfied.


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What is Career Progression?

Career progression is exactly as it sounds. It’s the process of progressing or moving forward in your career throughout your working life. 

This can look like being promoted with new job titles, taking on more responsibilities and roles, or finding new challenges that lead to better rewards. 

While most will say that career progression involves being promoted or receiving a salary increase, it doesn’t always have to look like that. Ultimately, career progression is very personal. What matters is what you deem a “step forward,” instead of “staying still.” 

Here are some examples of what different kinds of progression might look like:

  • Promotions
  • Higher salaries
  • More responsibilities
  • Reskilling to expand your skill set
  • Upskilling to move into a new industry or sector


A smiling woman in a white blouse sits at a table in front of a laptop


What Factors Affect Career Progression?

Several different factors can affect your career progression. Again, this ultimately depends on what you deem progressing. Depending on what that is, you may face different challenges or barriers that you need to overcome to move forward. 

Some of the most common factors that affect career progression include: 



For many industries, such as the pharmaceutical, food science, medtech and digital transformation industries, education is a primary factor in “climbing the work ladder.” 

Many of these roles, especially senior roles (e.g., a food scientist or biochemist), require extensive education and training. Finding degree programmes, such as a bachelor’s followed by a master’s, often lead to faster and further career progression.  

Work Experience

Work experience is just as important as education in some industries. While education gives you the foundation needed for many fields, work experience provides the much-needed training that can only be achieved by being hands-on.

Finding a role in your desired industry and logging the hours inevitably allows you to gain work skills and experience. In turn, you’ll find that career progression comes more naturally. 


If you’ve been in your industry for a few years, but feel stuck, as though your career is not progressing, then it may be time to take a look at professional development. 

Most industries are evolving rapidly, especially because of the digital era we live in. This means that now, there is also a skills and knowledge gap as a result.

Upskilling and reskilling are spectacular ways to break out of comfort zones and take on new challenges. 


When it comes to progressing in your career, it’s not always up to professional development or skills, for that matter.

Sometimes, you need to know the right people. 

The best ways to network involve building relationships with team members, managers, and others in your current workplace. You should also take opportunities to connect and forge relationships with others in your industry on social media, such as LinkedIn. 

What Is a Career Progression Plan? 

Mapping out a career progression plan is arguably one of the best ways to usher your professional goals along.

This type of plan is essentially a roadmap that directs you along your desired career path. It often consists of details around the stepping stones you need to get where you want to be. 

Why Is It Important to Chart One Out?

It’s a good idea to chart a progression plan, also known as a career development plan, because it allows you to visualise your desired career path. 

Rather than simply keeping it in your head and trying to remember your goals and aspirations, a progression plan helps you define your path. You may find that you feel more confident in your career-related moves once you have it noted down.


Progress in Your Career with This 5-Step Plan

Mapping out how to progress in your career may feel daunting. After all, it can seem like a huge dream filled with too many steps to count to reach your desired goal one day. 

 Person sits with laptop and textbooks after signing up for an upskilling course to aid in career development and progression.


The truth of the matter is: your career progression plan may consist of small steps throughout your path and it may also end up changing over time. However, having a plan will keep you from feeling stuck, unsatisfied, or directionless in your current job. 

Here are 5 steps to get you started: 

1. Identify Your Current Position

Again, think of this as a roadmap. Your starting point to get to the end destination is your current position. 

Whether it’s in a digital document or on a piece of paper, start by writing down your current job details. That may include:

  • Your current job title
  • Your current job description
  • Your current industry
  • Your current organisation or corporation you work for

You may also want to write down:

  • What you enjoy doing in your current position
  • What you don’t enjoy doing in your position
  • What natural skills and experiences you have
  • What current education and expertise you have


2. Determine the End Goal

Before filling in the steps to take, you need to have an idea of where you want to go. To do this, determine where you want to end up. 

At this stage, don’t worry about the obstacles you’d have to overcome to get to this place. Instead, just focus on the end goal. 

It’s up to you how far in advance you’d like this goal to be, but you may want to start with the next 5 to 10 years. There will be plenty of opportunities for career development in this time frame without making your plan too broad or vague.

3. Complete a Gap Analysis And Identify Areas Where You Need to Upskill

Once you know where you’re starting and where you want to go, you can start to look at the gap between the two. 

Do this by researching job descriptions for a role that somewhat aligns with your end goal. Find out what skills and experience are required for this role while also making sure it also aligns with the responsibilities and tasks you enjoy doing. 

Understand where you need to improve and areas that will require upskilling. This is also a good opportunity to start building relationships within your network. Reach out to team members or those in senior positions and ask them what their day-to-day work life looks like. 


4. Create a Development Plan

Within your progression plan, you’ll have your development plan. This is where you understand what career development tasks you need to complete to reach your end goal. 


List the Stepping Stones You Need to Take

First, determine what tasks you need to do to get to the career goal. 


  • Do you have the experience necessary? If not, how else can you obtain that experience? Is it through completing specific responsibilities in your job? 
  • Do you have the skills necessary? If not, how else can you obtain them? Is it through upskilling courses or a diploma programme
  • Do you have the education necessary? If not, how else can you obtain it? Is it through a master’s degree programme

Once you have listed these tasks, you can start to map them out as a checklist. For example, if you need to improve your skills around clinical research in order to reach your goal career, then one of your stepping stones may be, “sign up for an online course for clinical research.” 


Organise a Realistic Timeline

Once you have your entire list of stepping stones, then you can rearrange them to fit within a realistic timeline. 

Put short-term goals and tasks first and long-term goals and tasks closer toward your end goal. 

Your short-term goals and tasks should also include actionable steps that will help you in your current job position. For example, if you need to better understand a specific software in your current role, then assign a task to do so closer to the start of your timeline. 


Set Measurable, Achievable Goals

One of the best ways to ensure you’re on the right track is to set goals that you can measure. To make sure you stay on track, you’ll want to also make those goals attainable. 

Nothing will dishearten you like an unrealistic, unachievable goal. 

You may also want to set time constraints around these goals. That will help you stay motivated on progressing in your career.

For instance, this may look like “Complete a certificate course in process digitisation by the end of this year.”

5. Track and Analyse Your Progress and Re-Evaluate As Needed

Your career progression plan should be considered a plant that you’ll want to water and nourish regularly in order for it to thrive. By that we mean, you should check in with your progress and re-evaluate your plan periodically. 

Every six months, check your timeline and list of stepping stones. Have you made any progress? Are there things you can check off? 

When you do check in with your plan, it’s also a good idea to consider whether or not your goals have changed. Do you still want the same result? Has your career taken an unexpected direction? 

Understand that your plan is allowed to change and evolve with time. 

Common Reasons Why You’re Not Progressing in Your Career

If you’ve been in your current position for a while now (3+ years), and you haven’t felt any sense of progress, then you may be wondering one single thing: “Why am I not progressing in my career.” 

Feeling stuck or struggling to further your career can often be traced back to one (or more) of these common reasons: 

Woman sits at laptop with hands on her head while feeling frustrated from her career.


You’re Lacking Confidence

Maybe you’ve been in your position for a while, but you haven’t stepped forward as a leader in the role or department. Perhaps that looks like not speaking up with your thoughts, ideas and opinions during team meetings/discussions. 

Or maybe, it’s as simple as not asking your supervisor for more responsibilities. 

While some may consider this laziness, it could actually be that you’re not confident in your abilities or strengths. 

If this is the case, one way around this is by grabbing a self-help book about leadership and confidence building. That can be your first task in your career progression plan. 

It Doesn’t Align with Your Values and Aspirations

If you’re not progressing in your career, take a good look at your current role and industry. Also, consider what your end goal is and what success looks like to you. 

It may be that what you think you want and are working towards, doesn’t align with your true values and aspirations. 

Take this time to brainstorm and consider what will make you feel successful. It could be a different career path in the same industry. It could be a new industry altogether. Allow yourself to be open to considering a change. 

You’re Disorganised

It may sound too simple, but it’s one of the most common reasons why people don’t progress in their careers. 

This isn’t just about having a “messy desk,” or not focusing on your work efficiently. Instead, many people find that they’re trying to do too many things at once. The tasks pile up, and unfortunately, things such as “sign up for a new upskilling course,” gets pushed to the bottom of the stack. 

In the end, it results in missed opportunities which can lead to a stall in your career path. 

To help with this, make a checklist of the things to do. Prioritise them based on importance and urgency. Include your career goals in that list and hold yourself accountable to them. 

You Don’t Have a Predetermined Destination

Without a predetermined destination, you don’t know which way to go and what stepping stones to take. 

Instead of “climbing up,” you end up “expanding out.” 

To better understand where you want to be (and therefore, what path you want to take), take your time on steps 1 and 2 of our career progression plan. 

You’ve Stopped Growing and Learning

Furthering your career path takes work. If you want to continue moving forward, then you need to be ready to stretch out of your comfort zones. 

Volunteer to take on assignments to improve your skills and experience. Network with others in your industry. Sign up for an upskilling course to improve your knowledge of evolving technologies. Attend a workshop or conference to brush up on changing industry standards. 

All of these things make you a more valuable employee. That inevitably means you’re better suited for the career you want. 


How Can Innopharma Help You with Career Progression?

If you’re ready to start advancing your career in the MedTech, Pharmaceutical, Food Science, or Digital Transformation industries, then we’re here to help! 

With upskilling courses, diploma programmes, and master’s programmes, Innopharma Education can assist you in furthering your career. 

Ready to get started on a course or programme that’s right for you? Explore and learn more about our applied science programmes and courses

Or talk to someone from our team to discuss your career goals and see how we can help! 

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