5 Tips to Improve Your Career Development

You Owe Yourself a Career Development Action Plan

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Career management isn't just a nice-to-do, it's a must do, if you expect to gain maximum success and happiness from the hours you invest in work. Face it, you are likely going to work 40 hours a week for your entire adult life. Why not make them the best 40 hours that you can create?

Career management in which you plan and work to obtain new skills, capabilities, and experiences, is the answer. Share your goals with your boss and you have created a partner who can help you broaden your experience.

You are chock full of talents and skills. Continuing their development will stretch your world and enable more of your unique contribution. This, in turn, will make your career success and progress a cornerstone in your fully-developed life. Does your world get any better than this? Not really.

Career Growth and Development Opportunities

When most employees think about their careers, they have not thought past their current job or the next promotion that they'd like to receive. They need to broaden their short-term thinking. As employees are promoted up the organization chart, fewer jobs become available, yet continuing to grow skills and experience should still be a priority for people obtaining value from and adding value to their career.

You can continue to experience career growth by taking the lead on your career development and progress. Here are a few ways in which you can collaborate with your boss to manage your career.

  • Seek a mentor from a different department that you'd like to explore.

5 Tips for Career Growth and Development

Here are additional thoughts about career management. Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, Vice President and Managing Director of Apollo Research Institute and Visiting Scholar in Stanford University's Media X program, recommends five additional career management strategies.

  1. Could your career development and management use help to gain momentum? People who are the most successful and satisfied in their careers have proactively determined what they want from work. Once they’ve decided on their goals, they make a plan to accomplish the goals.
  2. Developing a timeline with career goals and expected milestones is also an effective way to manage your career. Bringing your boss and his or her sponsorship and mentoring into the picture will ensure that you have an internal mentor who will help you manage your career.
  3. Some companies have formal programs to help employees develop their careers. In others, you will need to informally pursue your career development. Companies with programs generally focus energy on helping employees develop and follow a career path.
  4. The career path is discussed at several meetings bi-annually with the employee’s boss. The company doesn’t own the career path; the employee does. But, the company demonstrates its deep commitment to its employees by assisting where possible with resources of time and dollars.
  1. Career paths are recommended for the same reason that goals are recommended. They are the written plan that can help each employee focus on what is most important to his or her fulfillment and success. Without a plan, you can feel rudderless and you have no benchmark against which you can measure your progress.

5 Tips for Strategic Career Management

Dr. Tracey Wilen, Vice President and Managing Director of Apollo Research Institute and Visiting Scholar in Stanford University's Media X program, recommends these additional career management strategies.

"Succeeding in a demanding, changing workplace requires a strategic career management plan. Employers want to attract, hire and retain employees who provide the best value. So consider yourself a business with a product to sell, and create a strategy for marketing your workplace value.

"Data from the Apollo Research Institute on the future of education, work and careers suggest the following five career management strategies:

  1. "Proactively engage your manager in a discussion about your career goals, and collaborate to create a career development plan. The most significant opportunity to exert influence is to involve your manager in the career planning process.
  2. "Investigate short- and long-term skill requirements. If your goal is to become the Vice President of Human Resources, understand the education, skills, technology, and experience requirements, and develop interim career plans for achieving your long-term career goal.
  3. "To increase your knowledge of career options, request one-on-one informational meetings with colleagues and managers. The purpose of these brief meetings is to gather information to help you make educated career decisions. People are generally willing to share their success stories and advice.
  4. "Volunteer to complete challenging projects and assignments. One of the best ways to advance your career is to identify an organizational problem and propose a solution. By offering to implement the solution, you will not only increase your visibility as a problem-solver in the organization, but you might also expand your skills in the process.
  5. "Consult the Human Resources department to learn about career development and job opportunities such as tuition reimbursement for a college degree or certification, in-house technical or professional training courses and available job openings. Take advantage of available opportunities. Maintain your momentum and commit to continuous skill building and improvement. By planning your career strategy, you are increasing your chances of staying employable and achieving your long-term career goals."

Each of us has a certain number of years to invest in working and making a living. Having a job is fine, but creating a career will maximize your opportunities for success. To have a successful career requires that you pursue career management strategies like these.

A successful career doesn’t happen unthinkingly. It needs planning, tending, and frequent review. Are you ready to pursue these career development strategies?

Additional Resources for Career Development