What is development? Simply put – it’s professional growth. For anyone beginning a career with a company, large or small, the sooner you realize you are the best champion of your own professional growth, the better. No company, supervisor, human resources employee or mentor will top what you can do for your own career. Make managing your own career a top priority!
How do you put yourself first?
That annoying question you get asked during interviews – “What do you want to do in 10 years?” That’s the question you should be thinking about. Even if you change your mind, being able to communicate your professional interests and what type of role you want to work toward is the first step in figuring out how to grow professionally. The best way to answer that question is to talk to people you trust and research positions that involve things you like to do.
Once you have an idea of the type of position you want to work toward (at least for today), there are a few useful steps you can take to get the most out of what your company has to offer.
#1: Find out how your company approaches development. Talk to your supervisor, HR contact and peers. If your company invests in their people, they will have resources available to you – and it is up to you to take advantage of them!
#2: A competency model is a tool companies often use to define skills required for specific positions. If your company does not have a model, the Internet is a great way to find the skills required for a particular role (search by job title). Knowing what skills are required for a role will help you focus your development in the right areas.
#3: A 360 Feedback Survey is a report that provides feedback from peers, supervisors, and staff (if you have direct reports). If you don’t have access to 360s in your company, talk to your boss about the importance of feedback to help track your progress. Ask if s/he will help you get feedback from your coworkers by sending out a few simple questions: What skills are you demonstrating well? What skills should you work on? Anonymity helps you get honest answers, so provide that option if possible.
A few additional pointers…
- Know your strengths and areas of development (skills that are challenging) and commit to working on both. It is human nature to focus on the negative, but research shows improvement on already strong skills can only help accelerate growth and potential (the ability to move up in career). Knowing what skills need to improve will allow you to prioritize and know where to focus.
- Surround yourself with people who are honest and will tell you how you are doing. You don’t want to join the group of employees who point fingers at everyone else. It’s not going to help and certainly won’t get you where you want to be. Coworkers, your boss and friends can be excellent resources for feedback.
- Network within—and outside—your company to learn what you can about what it will take to get to that future position. Professional associations, affinity groups, mentor programs and online communities will give you access to best practices. Those interactions will also help you develop important skills like networking and communication.
- Finally, find a way to connect with a person doing your dream job and pick their brain—how did they get there, what do they love and hate about the job, etc. Ask if they can mentor you as you work on your development. People enjoy sharing their experiences and will be eager to help someone who is early in career and passionate about growing professionally.
Florina Gordon Krawchick is a human resources leader. She has spent over 10 years working in the finance, pharmaceutical and biotech industries. Florina has a true passion for business and people and supports both through identifying, developing, rewarding and retaining talent. Her expertise is in recruiting, training, talent management, leadership development, organizational design and coaching.
Florina graduated with honors in Business and Human Resources from The George Washington University. She is a certified SPHR and Professional Coach. For more information, visit her LinkedIn page.
Interested in learning more about how to create a career plan? Read “How to Create a Career Plan that Starts Now” shared by another NEXTer.