Career development thrives when you can set clear, realistic goals that drive advancement in the profession of your choice. This involves continuing to educate yourself and learning more about potential pathways to advancing your career. In this article, we will cover career development and provide tips for making a plan to enhance your career path.
What is career development?
Career development is a lifelong process of developing your career. It involves determining your passion and skills to shape and achieve job goals. Your career development can involve advancing within a single company over several years, or it can lead to a career shift as your interests and skills change.
Although you are ultimately in charge of developing your own career, your boss may also be interested in your progress. Many companies invest time and resources in an employee, and to increase team member retention, they may offer additional training and education programs for specific roles.
Career development starts at an early age, and several external factors can influence it. Your parents, siblings, and role models may have a job that interests you as a child. You may attend classes at school that influence your decision to enter a particular field. For example, you may have had an interest in animals at a young age that inspired you to become a veterinarian, or a high school anatomy class could inspire you to become a doctor.
How to enhance your career development
Consider these steps when planning your career development:
Determine your ideal career
Finding a target industry or professional job is the foundation of an effective career development plan. The goals you set to advance your career will depend on your passion and values. Consider the following when choosing a job:
List your strengths. You may find that your strengths involve your natural interests or talents. List your strengths and see if there are any similarities that apply to your career. For example, if you are good at resolving conflicts and perform well in stressful situations, you could become a police officer or school counselor.
Define values and goals. Your core values are important, and you must choose jobs that align with your beliefs. Finding purpose in your job will increase your satisfaction and motivate you to advance your career.
Visualize your career goals. Clear goals can help you develop an effective career development plan. When setting goals, consider your ideal work environment, work-life balance, salary and other factors that are important to you.
Enroll in your company’s career development program
Most employers want team members to develop skills specific to their role or business. Companies can use career development programs to organize training and education for employees. If your company currently has a career development program, consider applying. They may provide courses to help you learn new skills or help with tuition fees for college courses related to your position. The ideal career development program for high school and college graduates who wish to receive valuable on-the-job training in addition to furthering their education.
Learn new skills
Acquiring new and relevant skills can help you progress toward your career goals.
Here are four soft skills that can be used by almost any position:
Critical thinking allows you to identify and overcome challenges by analyzing data and facts. Thinking critically at work can help you find solutions to obstacles to achieving your goals. To expand your critical thinking skills, learn more hard skills related to your role to make it easier to identify and solve problems.
Emotional intelligence involves interpreting the nonverbal conversations and actions of others and effectively communicating your ideas. Emotional intelligence is key in delivering clear goals and understanding your co-workers, managers and customers. During your next conversation, try to react to the speaker’s words with a facial expression, such as smiling when they mention something positive. You can also imitate their nonverbal actions to show that you are paying attention and are interested in the discussion.
Teamwork can help you work with team members to achieve common goals. Teamwork involves sharing ideas and helping coworkers with assignments to create a cohesive and fun work environment. When learning teamwork skills, make sure you listen to your co-workers and make an effort to include them in the activity. Try to identify where a team member might need help, and offer assistance if you can.
Negotiation is a conversation that helps two or more parties reach an agreement. Using negotiations in the workplace can include resolving coworker conflicts or discussing a raise with your manager. Developing these skills can help improve relationships with your team and clients. Try to find situations where you can practice negotiating. Identify your ideal goals, and stay confident when negotiating.
Expand your network
You can create a comprehensive professional network to help achieve your career goals. To expand your network, consider attending conferences related to your field. For example, if you are an executive assistant, you can attend administrative professional conferences to not only meet other assistants but also to learn additional skills. Some jobs have professional associations, such as the Teachers ‘Association or the Builders’ Association. Your network can help you find a job that fits your career path or it can help you form attainable goals.
Find a mentor
Mentors are advisors who offer young professional advice and guidance as they advance in their careers. Your mentor can be a current or previous manager, a member of your professional network or a colleague with more experience. A mentor will provide you with a trusted and experienced perspective that can help you determine your career goals. Consider meeting with your mentor weekly or monthly to share your achievements, build more career achievements and maintain your motivation.
How to make a career development plan
A career development plan will help you create a comprehensive outline that you can follow to achieve specific career goals. Follow these steps to form an actionable plan:
Find your main career interests. Career interest is usually a general idea for the field or job in which you want to work. For example, suppose you are currently a customer partner at a clothing store. You love working in the clothing industry, so your career interest could be designing or making clothes or accessories.
Set your long term goals. Long-term goals will help you find focus on your career interests. For example, at a clothing store, you are interested in how a merchandiser makes displays. After doing some research, you may decide that you want to become a clothing merchandiser for your company.
Set accomplishments to meet your long-term goals. Breaking your overall goal down into smaller steps will make completing the task easier and help you stay motivated. For example, to become a clothing merchandiser with your business, you must first become a retail association manager.
Draft a list of activities, classes or programs that will help you reach your goals. A mentor can offer advice on specific trainings you can go through. For example, suppose your mentor is the regional manager of a clothing store. They tell you that the company offers career development courses in fashion and retail management and helps you apply.
Describe your current assignments that can propel you toward long-term goals. Understanding the relevant assignments allows you to identify skills and areas you can improve on to achieve your accomplishments. For example, in your job as a co-customer, one of your main tasks is to store clothes. As a result of working with day-to-day merchandise, you can develop a broad knowledge of the product that relates directly to the clothing merchant’s responsibilities.