Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Own Your Career Development

Some employees have the misconception that responsibility for career development rests with their employers. Although companies may have an interest and the tools to assist employees with career development, the responsibility for advancing your career is really your own.

Start by creating a career plan. This includes identifying your career goals, listing action steps for achieving your goals, plus setting a realistic timeline.  Be sure to track progress. And, as events in your life impact your career direction—both professionally and personally—reassess and adjust your plan.
Below are some tips that put you on the path to owning your career development:
  • Be accountable: Many employees feel they have little control over their careers. They blame or credit managers, or others of influence in the company, for their career success or failure.  It’s easy to get so busy just working that you lose sight of managing your career, but you must accept accountability.
  • Identify and fill gaps:  As part of your career plan, identify any gaps you have in knowledge or skills.  Acquiring know-how and experience should help you to meet your goals.  Ideas for filling these gaps can include taking a class or training course or doing some volunteer work to develop a particular skill.
  • Ask for new responsibilities or tasks:  Often, new projects, tasks, or responsibilities that support your career development don’t surface simply because you don’t ask.  Raise your hand and let your interest be known—beginning with your manager.
  • Network with co-workers:  Expand your network to include co-workers beyond just those on your team.  Exposure to new and/or valuable resources can broaden your general knowledge of initiatives or issues across the company.  By sharing information about your career goals and interests, these co-workers can keep you abreast of opportunities for career development.
  • Remain flexible and embrace change:  No matter what industry or occupation you’re in, you can expect change—in the market, organizational goals, leadership, technology, etc.  Be open to change and keep your career plan flexible enough to adapt.

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