We often think of switching jobs as the best way to advance our careers. It’s true that a job change can provide new learning opportunities, greater responsibility and perhaps a better title or bigger paycheck. However, switching jobs shouldn’t be your only plan for advancement. If it is, you could be missing out on a valuable career development opportunities to take control of your career.
Many employers offer ways to help you gain new skills and increase your value, both in your current role and in the job market at larger. Are you taking full advantage of them?
Assess your skills
Increasingly, employers are encouraged to create formal career development plans for their employees that start with a skills assessment. If your employer doesn’t have a process for this, do one yourself. Take a look at where you want to be in one, five or ten years from now, and then decide what skills you’ll need to get there.
Will you need to know how to inspire others, delegate work, and communicate with shareholders? Will you need to master certain software programs or build relationships with current and potential clients? If you’re not sure, your company’s job descriptions are a great place to start. They should give you some insight on the education, experience and skills that your employer looks for in job candidates.
Take a look at the form your employer uses for performance evaluations and perform a self-assessment. Be honest about areas where you can improve. It may be helpful to reflect on the feedback you’ve been given during performance appraisals or in the course of your day-to-day work. This can help you identify strengths and weaknesses, set goals and take action to improve where needed.
Seek out opportunities
Most companies offer opportunities to take courses, attend conferences or participate in webinars. Take advantage of every opportunity that is presented to you.
If your employer doesn’t offer learning opportunities, or the ones they offer aren’t interesting and relevant to your goals, look for ones that are. Your company’s HR department should have information about the company’s policies on tuition reimbursement for degree and certification programs and other professional development opportunities.
Talk to your manager to get the expense approved. Make the case that the company’s investment will increase your effectiveness and value to them. They’re likely willing, but it might be up to you to express interest and initiate the conversation.
Even if they don’t have room in the budget to fund every opportunity that interests you, low and no-cost options like webinars and podcasts can provide excellent information in a format that fits your budget and schedule.
Learn on the job
One of the best ways to learn is on the job, so volunteer for assignments that will help you develop the skills to take your career to the next level. Volunteering for new, challenging projects shows drive and determination.
Other people will take notice when you take on work that is outside of your job description and comfort zone. You’ll be seen as a team player, which will increase your chances of landing a promotion.
Share what you learn
After you attend a conference or seminar, what do you do with the information you learned? Rather than hoarding it, use it to help your colleagues and coworkers.
Offer to share what you learned with your co-workers at an in-house class. In addition to extending your company’s investment in the course, you’ll deepen your knowledge of the subject. This will help to establish your reputation as a leader in your field.
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the daily grind of fulfilling your job responsibilities that you forget to take advantage of the opportunities in front of you. Make sure you’re taking advantage of the career development opportunities that come your way. They’re a valuable part of your total compensation package.
For help assessing your career path and next steps, contact us.