The Personal Strategic Plan: A Tool for Career Planning and Advancement

By Duffus, Lee R. | International Journal of Management, June 2004 | Go to article overview

The Personal Strategic Plan: A Tool for Career Planning and Advancement


Duffus, Lee R., International Journal of Management


The Personal Strategic Plan (PSP) is a personalized version of a strategic marketing plan. It is a written document that outlines the time-related details for achieving the career expectations of an individual in the context of satisfying the dynamic and strategic human resource needs of the organization. This paper discusses the advantages and disadvantages of a PSP, and presents a 6-step outline for creating one.

HR departments have long been accused of being out of touch with the strategic directions of their organizations (Cascio, 1999). Supporting this view, Leonard (1998) quoted one chief executive officer as saying, "HR professionals have been getting by focused on the day-to-day. They need to develop a broader and farther reaching vision, understand where their organization is headed, and how they can help steer the company in that direction." No place is this more manifest than in policies and practices involving selection and development of management employees.

This paper outlines a strategic process, involving development of a Personal Strategic Plan by each managerial personnel. The Personal Strategic Plan (PSP) is a personalized version of a strategic marketing plan. It is a written document that outlines the time-related details for achieving the career expectations of an individual in the context of satisfying the dynamic and strategic human resource needs of the organization.

Rationale for the PSP

The development of the PSP is a response to the observation by researchers and human resource professionals that the format and content of the traditional resume limits its effectiveness as a presentation format for personal, performance, and career information (Duffus, 2001; Winchester, 1999; Boivie, 1993). Criticisms of the traditional resume include; it is historical rather than future oriented (Stokes Jr., 1997); it does not adequately address the strategic human resource needs of the organization or how the individual is likely to measure up to them (O'Sullivan, 2002; Winchester, 1999; Stokes Jr., 1997); it does not adequately capture the career expectations of the individual or outline their perceptions of the strategic path to achieve them (Winchester, 1999; Bandura, 1997; Otte & Kahnweiler, 1995; Boivie, 1993); it emphasizes credentials and job descriptions rather than performance and accomplishments (Canter, 1998); it fails to address issues of employee sensitivity to the dynamically competitive marketplace and preparations to satisfy the required human resource needs (Portanova, 1995); and, it is too structured to provide meaningful differentiation (Holley, Higgins & Speights. 1988). In short, as an evaluative tool for managerial personnel, the traditional resume is perceived as limiting of creative self-expression, short on emphasizing accomplishments, disallowing effective differentiation to obtain competitive advantage in getting the interview, and so stereotyped that it provides minimal cross-applicant differentiation. Indeed, research among undergraduate business students, human resource professionals, and business professionals found that while the resume was perceived as an effective prescreening tool for lower level personnel, the PSP was regarded as more effective in facilitating career development and advancement among senior level managers (Duffus, 2002). The PSP is particularly useful during times characterized by turbulence in the job market (Otte & Kahnweiler, 1995).

The diversity and level of information available in the PSP suggests that human resource specialists should emphasize increased usage in considerations involving career development or job advancement. Research shows that this usage could facilitate orderly career development and enhance the likelihood of human resource decisions that are congruent both with the strategic human resource needs of the organization and the career objectives of the employee (Duffus, 2002).

Personal Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is a managerial concept that specifies where the organization is headed and how management intends to achieve the targeted results (Thompson & Strickland, 1992). …

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