A Guide to Career Development at Every Career Stage

Career development stages and how to excel as a manager and leader

Over the lifetime of your career, you will enter different career development stages. Getting clear on your career goals from the beginning and landing your first industry role is vital. What’s important is to remember that this focus must continue throughout your career journey if you’re serious about scaling the career ladder or are seeking management roles right now.

Four Key Stages of the Career Lifecycle


A. Exploration

During this early stage, it’s all about finding out what you enjoy or are good at doing. Make sure to speak to people in the industries you’re interested in or read up on people working in your dream role.

You may try out a variety of different jobs during this stage, finding out what you do and don’t like as you refine your career aspirations.

If you find yourself unsure of a specific career goal in mind, it may be worthwhile completing a broad qualification, which will give you a solid foundation for a variety of future career paths. A Diploma of Business Administration (BSB50415) is a great all-round option. Alternatively, you could seek out a certificate qualification to give you a better idea of a specific industry such as a Certificate IV in Human Resource Management (BSB40420).

During this stage, consider your soft skills such as communication, empathy and organisation, and look for personal development opportunities to strengthen these.

B. Establishment

During the establishment phase, make sure you’re clear on both your short- and long-term goals. Formalise your career development plan and put realistic timelines in place.

Review and enrol in the qualifications you’ll require to achieve your plan and start networking with peers and mentors. Once your studies are complete, begin applying for roles that will allow you to gain as much practical experience as you can. Many opt to do a part-time job until the right career role comes along. Take on volunteering as a way of continuing your soft-skill development.

C. Growth

Once you’re established in your industry, your focus should shift to professional development. Consider further study opportunities and seek out courses or conferences that will further hone your knowledge.

Now is an excellent time to review those short and long-term goals and set your sights on how to achieve the next rung on the ladder. For example, if you are aiming for internal promotion opportunities, then completing a Diploma of Leadership and Management (BSB50420) will help you reach your goals.

D. Maintenance

In the career maintenance phase, you’re happy with your current position and industry. However, it is essential not to become complacent and risk being made redundant or passed over for promotion. You need to proactively stay on top of changes within your industry.

Your options may include completing further studies or ‘topping up’ your experience with a diploma qualification. It’s smart to check if you are eligible for unit credits based on your career experience and existing job role.

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Career Trajectory examples by Industry


Human Resources

Human Resources is well suited to people who enjoy working with people and care about fostering a positive culture in their workplaces.

If you’re seeking a management role within the Human Resources industry, the best place to start is with a Certificate IV in Human Resource Management (BSB40420) or a Diploma of Human Resource Management (BSB50320).

A double diploma is worth considering as it allows you to take advantage of overlapping units and graduate with two diplomas in a shorter amount of time. You can elect to couple the HR qualification with a Diploma in Leadership and Management (BSB50420) or a Diploma in Business Administration (BSB50415).

Gaining a management role will be aided by the people management skills taught in your diploma, as well as the ones you learn by working in your position. When you feel ready to take the next step you can let your manager know that you are open to leadership opportunities and promotions.

Project Management

A career in Project Management is the perfect match for those who love overseeing and coordinating.

There are many ground-level opportunities in Project Management but working your way up to a management position starts with a solid education. The Diploma of Project Management (BSB50820) is a great place to develop your vital project management skills. Starting out with no experience? The Certificate IV in Project Management Practice (BSB40920) will help you acquire those fundamental skills.

Many double diploma opportunities exist to pair with a project management diploma. You can couple the qualification with a Diploma of Quality Auditing (BSB50920), a Diploma in Leadership and Management (BSB50420) or a Diploma of Building and Construction (Management)(CPC50320).

Completing a double diploma is an excellent way to stand out from other applicants during the recruitment process, allows you to become more specialised in your skills from the get-go, and places you in good stead for future management roles.

How to progress through the stages, business manager leading team in meeting

Senior Management

Being successful in senior management roles requires a combination of technical skills, experience and soft skills. Working in senior management is the natural progression for those who have worked in their industry for several years. They possess the required technical skills, but are looking to take the next step of managing people and having more responsibility for business strategy.

While no qualification can guarantee senior management roles without previous industry experience, coupling that experience with a specialised diploma such as a Diploma of Leadership and Management (BSB50420) will be an excellent aid during recruitment or when you apply for a promotion.


A career in Logistics requires great people and organisational skills and is well suited to people who enjoy coordinating big picture tasks while having excellent attention to detail.

Working your way up to a management position in logistics starts with a Diploma of Logistics (TLI50219). In a well-rounded online course, you’ll graduate job-ready for roles such as Logistics Manager, Transport Scheduler or Distribution Centre Manager.

You can couple a logistics diploma with a Diploma of Project Management (BSB50820), or a Diploma of Business (Procurement)(BSB51518). The crossover in units lets you complete them in less time and save money too.

To gain a leadership position within the logistics industry, you can consider completing a Diploma of Leadership and Management (BSB50420). Along with seeking internal opportunities such as leading teams or applying for promotions, adding a qualification is a practical way to ensure you’ll feel confident to apply for a management position.

Building and Construction

Working in the Building and Construction industry is ideal for those who enjoy working with teams and seeing projects come to life. If you’ve worked in the construction industry previously, you’ll likely find this qualification extremely relevant to your existing skills.

To work your way up to a management position in the industry, the best place to begin is with a Diploma of Building and Construction (Management) (CPC50320).

You can couple the Diploma of Building and Construction (Management) with a Diploma of Project Management (BSB50820). This is the ideal pairing for someone seeking a management role in the long-term and allows you to save time thanks to the large overlap in units.

Working your way up to a management role in the building and construction industry can often be quicker than in other sectors, due to the management skills built into the diploma.


A career in auditing will appeal to people who are detail-oriented but also like each day filled with a variety of challenges.

To work your way up to a Management position in the Auditing industry, you should start with a Diploma of Quality Auditing (BSB50920).

You can couple an auditing diploma with a Diploma of Project Management (BSB50820)and graduate with two qualifications in less time than completing them separately. You will find a variety of new opportunities in the industry and stand out during recruitment.

The best career paths involve continuous learning to achieve a level of mastery. Career Development is a necessary tool as you progress into different stages of the career lifecycle, particularly if you’re seeking management roles. To excel at every career stage, it’s worth remembering that formal study is a vital resource for achieving your goals.