What is your career development plan?
In recent conversations, I heard women say that they expect their managers or companies to drive and invest in their career development. Early on in my career, I realized that it was my responsibility to ensure that I was advancing, growing and learning. I seized the opportunity and started creating my career development plan. Reflecting on where I am today and how my career has evolved and changed over time, I value my decision to own my development. I encourage you today to take charge and enjoy all the benefits of being in the driver's seat of your career development.
In this post, we will define career development, debunk three common myths and explore five ways you can start owning your growth today. For further reading and in the context of this post, career development and professional development are used interchangeably.
What is career development?
What are some benefits of planning your Career development?
Taking a more active approach to your career development has the following benefits:
Three common myths about career development
Myth 1: My company will help me develop my career
The expectation that your company will set you up for success in your career might lead to disappointment. If your company provides development opportunities, be sure to take advantage. However, if they don't, seek out opportunities to make it happen for yourself. Be ready to invest in your development.
Myth 2: My manager is responsible for my career development
Owning your career development planning is key. Your manager can support you in implementing your plan. However, it is your responsibility to take charge of the implementation of your plan and shaping your career.
Myth 3: Career growth will come naturally
All good things demand some effort and work. You need to take an active role in your career development to get the career you desire. Don't leave your career growth to chance or circumstances. Your steering and managing are required to have the great career you want.
How to own your Career development
Let's explore five simple steps to own and shape your career development.
Set your career goals
Where are you now in your career? Where do you want to be in one year, three years, five years? You should have clear answers to these questions. However, if you don't have the answers, that's perfectly fine. Start thinking about your career goals today and write them down. Think freely, don't limit yourself, think of all the great things you can achieve in your career. This activity will help give you clarity and a sense of purpose for your career.
MC's Tip: Be as specific as possible. For example: By January 2019, I want to transition into a new role as a Product Manager in my current company.
Create your career development plan
What do you need to do to achieve your goals? If you want to succeed, you need to have a plan. Take a more in-depth look at what activities are necessary to achieve your goals. Remember to set due dates for the activities. Also, make it a priority to revisit your development plan regularly and keep your plan current to where you are in your career.
MC's Tip: Break down the tasks you need to do to achieve your goal. For example: To become a Product Manager, I need to gather more information about the role, inform my manager, get product management training and search for open positions.
Take steps to get where you want
Now that your goals are clear, and you have a plan, it is time to take the first step towards the career you want. Making progress towards your goals is the best motivation on your journey. We achieve our career development goals by taking ownership and taking a step. Remember to track your achievements and progress.
MC's Tip: Do something today. For example: Contact someone working in the role you want and invite them to have a cup of coffee.
Expand your support system
Having access to people with experience, insight, and information will help you get ahead in your career. Be sure to invest time in building a network that propels your career growth. A great support system should consist of a mix of mentors, sponsors, colleagues, champions, and partners. The people that form your support system can serve as accountability partners, share knowledge, celebrate you, give you advice and feedback. The crucial role of your professional network in your career growth can't be stressed enough.
MC's Tip: Find people who have experience in the areas you are interested in. For example: Join a professional network of Product Managers and start taking in knowledge of the community.
Build your professional portfolio
Your portfolio is an organized collection of relevant documents and artifacts that showcase your talents, most relevant skills, and charts your professional growth. (Source: Developing a Professional Portfolio). Spend time building your professional portfolio that has information about you and your professional journey. As you progress in your career, show and share your achievements and your experience that showcase your professional identity.
MC's Tip: Your portfolio should contain proof that you have put in the work to get where you are. For example: Add relevant knowledge, experience, and successes that will make you a great Product Manager. Let your portfolio speak for you.