How Professionals Can Drive Their Own Career Growth
As you think about career growth, it can be easy to focus on that next promotion or training opportunity you’d like to receive. While these short-term goals can certainly help you gain new skills, make a greater impact, and boost your overall happiness at work, it’s just as important to think about the bigger picture.
While your employer should be making the effort to help you grow professionally, ultimately, it is you who is responsible for your career success. If you want to keep your skills up-to-date, be eligible for advancement opportunities, and maintain your professional marketability in today’s ever-evolving market, you need to take the reins on your career growth. When things can change at the drop of a dime—from the skills in-demand to market conditions—being proactive, both at work and in your personal time, will help you stay resilient and bring you closer to achieving your long-term professional goals.
Here are eight ways to take charge of your own career growth.
Set learning goals
Setting your learning goals is a critical first step to being more proactive about your career growth. Get started by thinking about where you want to be in the next three to five years. Is there a specific level you want to be at? Are you looking to make a leap into a new industry or career path? Regardless of the answer, thinking about the big picture can help you set more manageable goals that keep you accountable for learning. These should be mini and ever-evolving goals, like learning a new skill or earning a certification.
Make learning part of your work week
When focused on your specific role and responsibilities, it can be difficult to make the time for learning. While a common frustration, this situation can unfortunately hinder your career growth. To take a more proactive approach, try to block out a set amount of time each week to spend on training and courses. Even if it’s just an hour on Fridays, for example, this time can make a huge difference in the long run.
Utilize company resources
Many companies have formal programs or policies to help employees with professional development. However, it is also your responsibility to express interest in these opportunities. If you are serious about career growth, discuss your learning and development goals with your supervisor. Together, you can come up with an action plan based on the resources available.
Ask for stretch assignments or shadowing opportunities
There are many opportunities to learn and grow on the job, even if you have been with your employer for some time. If your career growth has stagnated or your days feel repetitive, consider asking for a stretch assignment or shadowing opportunity. Access to a new project or the ability to explore a different area of the company can help you feel more challenged and learn something new.
Look outside the office
You can find plenty of opportunities for career growth outside of the office as well. Seek out networking events to attend, industry associations to join, and volunteer opportunities to supplement what you are learning on the job. Read also: Want More Career Development? Look Outside The Office
If self-paced learning is more your speed, there’s an endless number of free and paid career growth resources available on the internet. Here are several to choose from:
Career growth blogs
Here are a few great career-oriented blogs to add to your reading list!
You can opt for a course or learning program tailored to your specific line of work, but here are some more general resources to get started:
If you are looking for professional development, here are several books on career growth and development to check out!
The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career
The Long Game: How To Be A Long-Term Thinker In A Short-Term World
Give And Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success
Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One
Give your eyes a rest by listening to podcasts! Depending on your goals, there are a variety of career-oriented podcasts to choose from. Here are a few!
Abundantly Clear: The Growth Mindset Podcast
Apply what you’re learning
Keep your finger on the pulse of new industry skills, technologies, and strategies, and try to utilize this expanded knowledge at work. Share what you’ve learned with your manager and team to help identify skills gaps, discover opportunities for process improvements, and brainstorm new ideas. Doing this will allow you to put what you’ve learned into practice, while helping your team better accomplish their goals.
Find a mentor
Seek out a mentor with a career path you’d like to emulate. Based on their experiences, they can offer you the support, feedback, and advice you need to keep growing in your career. You’ll be able to learn from their successes and mistakes, and they may even be able to connect you with new opportunities for professional development, networking, and career advancement. Read also: 4 Reasons Why You Need A Professional Mentor
There may be situations where your employer may just not be able to give you the career growth opportunities you need. If you have navigated these conversations with your manager, been transparent, and learned new skills, it may be time to move on if there is no clear path to advancement.