Who’s in charge of your career development?
If you aren’t making considered choices about your career development, then you’re effectively tasking your employer to do it for you.
This can be great if your employer is providing you with an extensive training program to keep you progressing and gaining new skills.
But many don’t.
And even if they do, this training may be more in the organisation’s best interests than your best interests.
The good news is that there is a buffet of opportunities available to you.
You just need to take ownership of your career development.
Here are ways you can start doing this.
Do a development audit
Consider how you’re currently developing and what more you can do to develop further.
What skills are you acquiring?
What experience would you like to gain?
What qualifications will serve you through your career?
This review shouldn’t just focus on your immediate work either. You should consider what complementary skills or experiences could combine to give you greater advantages.
For example, if you’re a salesperson working in finance, what would it mean for your career if you got a finance qualification? Or what if you’re a consultant and you expand your knowledge of AI? Or what if you’re a nurse and you learn about reflective practice to improve team communication?
It’s also helpful to look towards people in different positions and understand what they did to get there.
What qualifications do they have? What Industry Associations are they a member of? What prior experiences do they have which you can also explore at this stage of your career?
Seek training through your organisation
Once you’re aware of opportunities that can further your career, the best place to start exploring them is your current workplace.
Many organisations will provide their employees with training and development opportunities, but these might not be widely known. Chat with your manager or someone in HR about available opportunities and work together to be included in them.
Your organisation may also offer training that isn’t available to you (yet!). For example, some organisations offer management training at certain leadership levels. If you are interested in advancing within your organisation, then you should let your manager know you’d love to do this training. This may open the door for you to do it earlier than you would otherwise, and even if it doesn’t then you’ve sent a very strong signal about your desire to develop further.
Many organisations are also very open to supporting your development when you propose external opportunities, like studying for a qualification. They may subsidise this training if you ask, and at the very least they may provide you with some extra days of personal leave to study or take the tests.
Develop on your own terms
You should always stay curious about development opportunities that go beyond your current organisation.
There’s only so many opportunities that your employer can provide, and there are so many more opportunities out there just waiting to be explored.
Some of these opportunities may involve a substantial financial cost, which you may be adverse to doing if you’ve already spent a lot of money on prior study.
But there’s also lots of development opportunities for little or no financial cost that will open up lots of doors in your future.
Just appreciate that once you stop investing in yourself, you start to limit your upside potential.
If you’re not making decisions about your career development, then this means that someone else is or no one else is.
So don’t assume that your organisation should take the lead with your career development.
But also don’t assume that they won’t support you when you take the lead of your own career development.