Career development is vital to your ongoing career progression and success.
We live in a fast-moving world where the skills required by employers are constantly evolving.
Because of this, it’s a good strategy to always be learning new skills and developing relationships that will enable you to move up the ranks at your organisation.
The main forms of development you should focus on are:
- Upskilling tangible skills
- Mentors & relationships
If you stay ahead of the curve in these areas, you will find that opportunities open up for you as you gain more experience throughout your career.
The skills required by employers are constantly changing, which means it’s a good idea to consistently be adding to your repertoire.
The best ways to learn new, more advanced skills include:
Most employers will also have internal programmes where you can learn relevant skills to your industry for free.
Whenever you hit a moment in your career where you feel comfortable in your role, I encourage you to push outside your comfort zone and learn a new skill that will help you add value.
The other key area of career development is cultivating valuable mentor relationships.
More than any other skill, the right relationship can help you take steps forward in your career that you would otherwise not be able to.
However, people usually misinterpret what a mentor should be.
Having a mentor does not mean that the CEO of your company holds your hand through every problem you face.
What you should do is find somebody 1 or 2 steps ahead of you in your career, but following a similar path.
Then, approach them with a structured proposal to catch up every quarter to get their advice on your professional career.
Mentor relationships should be led by the mentee.
It’s up to you to set the agenda, schedule a time and provide updates on your key projects that you want feedback on.
The mentor’s job is to simply guide you when they notice a serious error or problem, but no more.
As you progress, you will need to seek out new mentors at higher levels, and you will likely find those mentor relationships develop into friendships that will prove invaluable throughout your career.
Performance reviews are an incredibly important part of your progression.
There are 2 main aspects to a performance review which are:
- Progress against previous objectives
- Setting new objectives
It’s common for employees to let their manager lead this process, but it’s in your interest to always take the lead.
I always recommend keeping a weekly record of your activities during the year, and how they relate to your stated objectives.
Then, during the review, you can point out the specific actions you took to achieve what was asked of you.
If you don’t do this, you are relying on your manager always knowing what work you’re doing, which is unlikely unless you’re being micro-managed.
Next, ensure you are part of the discussion when it comes to setting future goals.
Clearly outline what your personal goals are, and provide examples of projects you think can add value to the company.
Then weave these into your official objectives during each review.
Salary negotiation is a touchy subject, and many people find it uncomfortable.
But that’s just because they don’t have a good strategy for approaching it.
We all want to earn more money, but if you don’t demonstrate value, then it won’t happen automatically.
The best way is to use your performance review to set planned salary increases that are contingent on specific outcomes.
“If I complete these tasks, I would like £x amount salary increase (please).”
Then, at the next year’s review, as long as you fulfil your end of the bargain, your employer should have no issue rewarding you appropriately.
And remember, if you don’t ask you don’t get, so make sure you always take the lead with your salary.
Getting promoted is probably the toughest part of the career journey.
There are three main ways to get promoted:
- Replace somebody in your existing team
- Move departments
- Move companies
The most common way to get promoted is within your existing team.
Somebody will leave which opens the door for you to move up.
However, this can be an issue if there is low staff turnover and opportunities are limited.
Ultimately, if you can’t progress in your current team, you need to force the issue by moving on.
However, don’t be too hasty here. There’s usually a lot more you can learn in your current role if you haven’t been there for at least 1 year, and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side!
I hope the information on this page has been helpful and given you some ideas of how you can progress your career faster.
If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to download any of my careers resources below, completely free.
Or, if you want to work with me more closely, I encourage you to join my Careers Mastery course which has helped hundreds of people build the careers they deserve.