Archive for March, 2012

Who Do You Think Owns Your Career Development

When I first started working, I worked at a major corporation with an extensive training and development program.  I was exposed to the idea of building my annual career development goals, selecting from a catalog of training, and discussing it regularly with my manager.  While this was a great experience, I look back on it now and am thankful that I was re-organized to a manager who could not have cared less about development.  I could have been spoiled quickly and it could have caused lasting damage to my career.

Who Do You Think Owns Your Career Development?

It is not your boss or current employer.  Some surveys show that a person could change jobs as much as 7 times in their career. If that is the case, do you really want to put your fate in the hands of at least 7 bosses?  And that doesn’t even count the number of organizational changes you face with an employer.  Your employer’s perspective is to develop the skills that they need to maximize their investment in you as an employee.  Their job is not to keep you marketable in your career.  That is your goal – and no one else’s.

To keep yourself marketable, you have to invest time.  This is a small price to pay compared to the alternative of being stuck in the same job or finding yourself disconnected from technology or skills that you need to find your next position.  Here are some ideas of things you might want to consider when keeping your skills sharp.

1. It will cost you money.  Not all employers are going to pay for training to help you remain marketable.  You may have to invest in yourself from time to time.  Whether it’s a book, online class, or a formal training course, you may need to spend some money.  Consider this an investment in yourself which should pay off if you gain a skill set or extend the life on one that you already have.  Plus, what a great thing to share on a resume.  Wouldn’t a potential employer be impressed if you were to show the initiative to keep your skills at their best?

2. You have to be honest.  Be your own hardest critic.  Yes, you should be getting feedback on your performance from your manager.  You may also be able to gain feedback from peers.  But be honest with yourself – you probably have a good sense of when you have screwed up.  Or when you look back on a task and think “I could have done that better – or different”.  Take the time to jot down a note and during a quiet moment, reflect on it.  If you are comfortable, share your thoughts with your employer, and talk to them about what you are thinking about and how you would like to handle it differently next time.  Perhaps your honest reflection will get you additional feedback from their perspective.

3. Look Outside of the Box.  You may be a major player at your office but would you rank as “top dog” somewhere else?  Use your professional network to gain insight on how your role is handled at other companies.  This is a great way to also gain input on companies that you would like to work at one day.  Knowing the capabilities expected of people in your role at other companies or through professional associations, can give you a way to measure yourself against a broader group.  This will help you strengthen your areas of weakness so you can strongly compete for your next position.  This can also help you talk with your manager about a potential promotion or career path.

No one is going to guarantee you a job for life (if you find someone, let me know).  We all owe it to ourselves to consider our long-term professional goals and invest in ourselves to be the strongest we can be in our field.  The time spent can help you in your current position and provide value to your employer (Win).  This could lead to great work, sense of accomplishment, promotions, great performance ratings, raises, and more.  It may also help you position yourself for a great opportunity down the road in your career.  Either way, it’s worth taking the time to do because the alternative of neglecting your own development  is the painful regret you may feel 5 years from now when you do not have the skills needed to move onto a new job.

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March 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm Leave a comment


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