Your career objectives: Who’s in charge of your career?
If you’ve worked for several employers and possibly in more that one career you know how important it is to keep up with technical changes in your career, new advancements in your industry and your continuing career growth and development.
Although many companies realize how important it is to stay competitive through added training of their employees many do not have the resources to cover all the needs of their staffs.
So the proper obligation to advance and grow your career and keep up with the related knowledge rests with you. Here are some ideas to advance your professional and career growth:
Life-time learning: The key to reaching your career objectives and building your skills is a robust plan of life-time learning and self-study.
With the internet the source of information is almost limitless. Briefly, here are some starting points to consider:
1. Keep up with your career and industry by reading at least one all-purpose business magazine and one industry publication. Use your down time, like waiting or your lunch hour, to keep current with your reading. Whenever you come across something of interest, summarize it and send it other members of your department and your boss.
2. Plan to read at least one career or business related book each month. Whenever possible add another book of topical interest.
3. Discover on-line learning. There are literally dozens of distance learning courses. Many are free, on video and podcasts. Make it a point to keep abreast of what is available and build this important learning resource into your plan. The positive impact on your career will be swift and immediate as you learn new skills, improve your strengths and eliminate areas of weakness.
4. Your learning should never stop. Your local junior college and university has a roomful of continuing education courses. Many can be completed with only one classroom session a month with the balance online. Moreover, some can lead to career related certifications. Others include learning a new language, expanding on computer systems and software skills or just exploring information for a possible career change.
Learning from others: As you get more involved in your professional association look for someone who can advise you about your career and your overall career objectives. Be considerate of their time and plan on meeting periodically to review your progress and to work through issues that may have cropped up.
Within your company, your career association or in your volunteer work you will be working with and observing others who are very successful in one or more phases of their careers. Whenever possible ask them for some time to explain and show you how they reached the top of a particular skill.
If it’s some study or practice they suggest add the items to your study plan. Keep them involved in your progress.
In addition, if you see someone who is routinely unsuccessful at some activity that of course is something to stay away from.
If you get stuck in some aspect of your career, you can always find someone who can give you advice and counsel on that particular issue. Career coaches are everywhere, talk to others and get their recommendations.
Get your boss involved: When you have an outline of your career development plan drafted; plan a meeting with your boss. Discuss your overall goals and how and when you expect to achieve them. Get feedback on your priorities and carefully consider any suggestions your boss may have.
Going forward keep your boss informed as each planned milestone is reached and any other achievements related to your career plan.
Learning from outside activities: If your career has a local career based organization, you can profit in a variety of ways. It’s a great opportunity to network. Local meetings have speakers where you can learn more about your career and industry related trends.
You should be able to participate on committees and assist in membership drives and conferences. Many professional groups have training courses and possible certifications.
Newsletters, emails and websites will keep you current on news important to your career. Also, there will be opportunities to write articles for the newsletter and website.
Another valuable outside activity is volunteering and working with others. You expand your network of contacts and build important skills such as; leadership, teamwork, marketing and communications.
Summary: Your career plan is a long-term commitment. Stay flexible and adjust your goals as your interests and skills change. Your career success goes beyond a particular job as you are constructing both a career and a life.