By Dr. Melissa McManus, SHRM-CP
Career development is the ability for you to manage your career. It involves goal-setting, awareness, and a willingness to learn. It is an ongoing process throughout the course of your career and sometimes, it can involve a bit of risk (don’t worry, I’ll come back to that later!).
You may have noticed in those first few sentences, I say ‘you’ or ‘your.’ There is a reason for this! Career development is driven by the individual—not by your employer, but by YOU.
While it is not uncommon for a company or organization to facilitate career development—many organizations these days offer employees certification training or tuition reimbursement—it is ultimately up to you to take the reins of your own career development.
Companies typically want to see their employees grow and improve, not only in their current position, but also so they can take on more elevated positions in the future. The better you are at your job, the better off the company is—it’s a win-win situation for all involved.
If you want a promotion, a position in a different department, or to simply be the best at what you do, then you must continue to develop your skills and knowledge.
You must be willing to take risks.
Anything worth doing involves some risk. While fear of the unknown and the ‘what-if’ part of your brain can keep you from doing certain things, when it comes to your career development, you should try to ignore that nagging voice. With great risk comes great reward.
For example, I recently obtained a SHRM-CP Human Resources certification through the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM). This certification provides me with more authority in my area, allowing me to advance not only my career, but within my organization as well. The SHRM-CP provides me with knowledge and skills in my chosen career, and ensures that I continue to be a life-long learner in my area through recertification activities.
While I didn’t start my career with a focus on HR, it was taking risks along the way that allowed me to follow a different path towards becoming SHRM-CP certified. If you don’t try new things, you could miss out on great opportunities—in your career, missing out can lead to stagnation and monotony, a situation I’m sure most would rather avoid.
At this point you might be saying, YES, I want to be in control of my career development! But where do I start, what do I do, and how do I do it?
The best way you can manage your career development is with a solid plan. Here are four areas you should take inventory of when planning your career development:
- Self-Assessment – this is something you should do on a periodic basis. This can be every six months, every year, or at an interval appropriate to you and your goals. You should assess where you are currently to help you plan for where you want to go.
- Career Awareness – this is understanding not only your current position, but other positions that are available to you based on your education, skills, and experience. This can include an awareness of careers that you want to have in the future, as well.
- Goal Setting – set goals, both long-term (5+ years) and short-term (1-2 years), as well as some immediate goals. These should include what you want to accomplish, how, and why. Keep it simple at first—you can always expand and make changes. Plus, changes will likely happen organically as you progress through your career.
- Skill Development – develop the skills that will assist you in meeting your goals and keep you informed in your career area. You can accomplish this though reading, seminars, trainings, conferences, etc.
Seems simple enough, right? The easiest way to get started with your career development is to start anywhere you feel comfortable. Famed sales coach Zig Ziglar said it well, “It is not what happens to you that determines how far you go in life; it is what you do with what happens to you.”
How do you incorporate career development planning in your life?
About the Author: Melissa McManus is a Human Resources Generalist and research guru and loves every minute of it. One of her greatest strengths is her resolute ability to soak in new information and her never-ending thirst for knowledge. Melissa has a Master’s degree in Counseling, and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with a focus in Human Resource Development. Melissa’s professional interests include human behavior, career development, research, writing, training, and knowledge transfer. She is passionate about life and describes herself as an avid bookworm. In her free time, when she is not running her kids to gymnastics or karate, Melissa enjoys reading (a lot), wine tasting, CrossFit, being with friends/family, and spending time with her husband and two children.