The Lessons I Learnt About Personal Career Development
At the age of 24 and back from a year travelling and just completed a Masters in Marketing, I was at a proverbial junction in the road. This was the start of my professional career. What would I do next? I had no plan.
My life up to that point had been clearly laid out. Finish school, go to college and travel with my friends. Many of my classmates from that Master’s course knew exactly what they wanted and quickly found their way into marketing departments in some excellent companies with a clear path ahead of them. But I really hadn't planned any further than graduation and now I was actually quite clueless as to my next move. It was quite unsettling.
I ended up naturally falling into sales as this suited my personality and I stumbled through a couple of jobs until I ended up working in recruitment.
It really wasn't until I was well into my thirties that I started to really think about my career in the future, what I wanted from it and what I would like to be doing and learning. I had just been letting things happen to me, career wise, until that point. I wanted to make money to enjoy my social life and that was about it.
This may be a familiar story to many people. This article is an attempt to propose a different way to manage your career.
Everyone's experience of their work and career is very unique and personal. But there is one thing that everyone has in common. It's in your control. You have the power to influence your own actions and the direction your career goes. You have the ability to make things happen.
One thing I would tell myself younger self finishing up in college would be to proactively go after what I wanted in my career.
The key is simple planning, goal setting and action. For anyone who is currently meandering in their career or feels like they are not in control of it, why not try out these 5 steps to managing your personal career development.
Career guidance- Top 5 steps to focus on in your personal career development:
Clearly define what you want for your career
This doesn't need to be something like ‘I want to be CEO of a big company’. The idea here is to capture what you would like to be doing in your career.
Questions to ask yourself: What skills do you want to develop? What would make you happy? How do you define success for your career? What is really important to you personally?
For example, do you want to be working in a team, leading that team perhaps and what kind of leadership role would you like? Do you want to travel and work around the world? Do you want to be a leading expert in an area?
It's all very well knowing what you want in your career but it's purely aspirational if you don't set some goals. Sometimes it's hard to know what is achievable, but try something. The key here is to set realistic goals that are given a time frame.
Pro tip: Putting a timeline in place is crucial to create the urgency for you to take action to achieve your goals.
Use the resources available to youBusiness vector created by vectorjuice - www.freepik.com
In any employment, there will be some resources available to you. Use these to help achieve your personal goals. These could be training resources or programmes available to you. But possibly more importantly, these resources will be people.
Bring your bosses into the conversation about your career goals. These people have the ability to help you achieve your goals, and it's in their best interest to do so. If you are moving closer to achieving goals, then you will be more engaged, happier and more productive. It's a win win.
Leverage those relationships as much as you can. Outside of your colleagues, try to find people you trust to speak to and get mentored by. This doesn't have to be a formal arrangement. Simply talking with piers from your industry or friends about your career can be a really great way to develop you.
Write it all downComputer vector created by vectorjuice - www.freepik.com
Please capture all of your planning, goal setting and actions on a page. The act of writing it down builds accountability in yourself, and ‘sense checks’ everything. Plans can change, and that's ok. But make sure you are writing it all down as you go.
Review and amend as you grow
People vector created by pch.vector - www.freepik.com
It's all good to do this thinking and planning and writing, but if you then go back to work and never revisit it, then it's unlikely anything will happen.
My opinion: is that you should be reviewing your goals and actions at least once every three months.
This career development plan you have put down on paper needs to be nurtured and is a work in progress. You may wish to change some of your goals as your own career aspirations change. That's great. Make your career a priority and give it the time and thought it deserves.
I really hope that these 5 steps to managing your personal career are useful to you. Planning your own career is a highly personal thing and I wanted to make this post a personal reflection on my own mistakes and what I have learned from these to share with others.
I would love to hear back from anyone who has tried these steps, or something similar and how it went for you. Or if you disagree and feel there is another approach that is better. Contact me on email@example.com. It would be great to talk.