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Owning your career development - 13 things you must do

At some point in childhood, you had imaginations about who you would become in the future, the profession, prestige, and luxury. Those fantasies probably influenced your choice of school, discipline, social network, and career. Your continuous effort and engagement in activities, such as studying a course, learning work skills, and networking, took you closer to achieving those desires. Moving from one phase to another is the process of personal development. Personal development takes various forms - psychology, emotional, physical, and career.

A survey on American workers and career growth indicates that 48 percent are willing to take an online class to improve their careers. Seventy-four percent, aged 25-34, are most likely to enroll in an online course, while 63 percent, aged 18-24, also plan to enroll. Older workers are interested in online education. Fifty-eight percent, ages 35-44, 46 percent, ages 45-54, and 21 percent, fifty-five or older are expecting to enroll. The underlying objective is to improve the quality of life. What will you do?

What is career development?

Career development explained
Career development explained

Career development is the process of self-reflection, self-discovery, decision making, and learning that influences or progresses a chosen career path. It is an activity geared towards career progression. Career development is a long-term activity of building skills and expertise that allow for professional growth.

Career development can be undertaken to improve employability, move from one position to a higher position within the organization, or for career transition. A person's career can determine his quality of life. According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, the apex of man's need is self-actualization. One can then say that career development is an integral part of man's life.

Career development vs Professional development

Often, career and profession are usually mistaken to have the same meaning, which isn't. A profession is an occupation obtained from prolonged intellectual knowledge and skill set. Profession entails rendering services or using acquired expertise in exchange for an agreed form of payment.

A career, on the other hand, has a wider scope. Career covers both profession and business. It is a personal journey driven by ambition. A journey that entails building an education background, taking up additional professional courses, learning new in-demand skills, building portfolios, job applications, work-life, promotions, transitions, and so on.

A career development integrates professional development in the facet of the training workers undergo to acquire, reinforce, and apply new skills.

What are the areas of career development?

Career development is subjective to an individual. There is a need to evaluate and understand your career path and work skills to determine the area in your career that you need to focus on and the skills you need to learn. These two areas of career development to investigate.

Soft skills: Soft skills are essential for career growth. It ensures a positive work relationship, longevity, and productivity. Examples of soft skills vital to a career development plan are.
  • Communication

  • Time Management

  • Flexibility

  • Agility

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Problem-solving

  • Team collaboration

Hard skills: Hard skills are technical work abilities required to get a job done. Each job has its specific hard skills necessary for productivity. Examples are.
  • Programming languages like Python, C++, HTML, and JavaScript

  • Machine learning

  • Quantum computing

  • Cloud computing

  • Data mining

  • Graphics design

  • SEO

What does it mean to own career development?

Do you believe it is your manager's job to think about your career growth and determine the next step to take in your career? Do you feel you do not have the expertise or experience to develop a career growth strategy? You feel like career development is too expensive and time costly.

The fact is, no one can manage or plan your career development better than you. No one sees the bigger picture and understands your career visions better than the way you envision them. Owning your development is taking the lead in your development journey, setting your career goals, and taking initiative to actualize them.

Why do you need to own your development?

Some managers feel that staff members do not have the time, or staff members will tell when they are ready for career advancement. Thus, employees must have their own career planning. Make sure to discuss your career growth with your manager.

In addition, companies are advancing with the evolution of technologies and need unique talents. You need to step up and get your development in motion to meet company demands.

Here are some tips on how to own your development.

Tips to owning your development

Tips to owning your development
Tips to owning your development

1. Take responsibility for your career development plan

It is important to note, the only way to achieve and thrive in that dream job is to take responsibility for your development. No one in the world can control your career growth as you would. A manager or career expert might create a development plan that might not satisfy your goals.

You know what is best for you; own it!

2. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses

Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses
Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses

Be honest with yourself. Write out your skills gap, preferences, strengths, and improvement areas. It will give you a picture or make you aware of your present position and steps to take in your growth plan.

3. Consult professionals, experts, or career coaches

Professionals, experts, or career coaches are your go-to people
Professionals, experts, or career coaches are your go-to people

Always remember that you are not alone in your quest. People have walked the same journey and have insights and advice to give. Read about industry leaders and their growth stories. Consult professionals, experts, or career coaches on the proper steps.

There are several experts or coaches online you can learn from on the internet. YouTube, Podcasts, Blogs, LinkedIn, and conferences like TED Talks are useful resources to leverage. Make sure to seek advice on areas of uncertainty.

4. Set up your development goals

write out what you want to achieve
write out what you want to achieve

A key element to owning your career development is setting development goals. Setting goals helps align your focus and place you on that success map. Your vision and mission are significant here.

Divide your goals into short- and long-term professional objectives; so, you do not get overwhelmed. The short-term objectives should consist of things or activities that will help achieve the long-term professional objectives.

For example, if you want to be a top-notch Data Scientist. Your short-term objective will be to learn the practical details of data science, like Python, Anaconda, and SQL.

5. Develop a strategy

Develop a Strategy
Develop a Strategy

Take your time to create a plan to kick start your development journey. Do not get carried away with the thought of fast accomplishment. Consider your current job, the time factor, finance, and health. You do not want to get choked!

Make sure your strategies are easy to execute; so, you do not get stuck. Organize a brainstorming session with friends or colleagues, review resources, vision, and mission; to develop realistic strategies. That is how to own development.

6. Have a work-life balance

Create a work-life balance
Create a work-life balance

Prioritize your private life as you prioritize your work. Ensure your work gives you time for other aspects of your life. A balance will give ample time to venture into career development.

7. Ask questions

Ask questions
Ask questions

Asking questions will give you the knowledge you need to progress. Ask questions on career development best practices suitable for your career path.

Companies that are tech-oriented due to technological advancement techniques and best practices are constantly changing. Check for niche communities on the internet, where you can get prompt and authentic answers to your questions.

8. Stay on top of the technology and job trend.

Stay updated with new tech and trends
Stay updated with new tech and job trends

Career development requires consistent research on career trends. New technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, cloud computing, quantum computing, and robotic process automation are reshaping industry business models, needs, and operations. Also, these recent technologies are reshaping career structures. It is imperative to be up to date with innovations and trends to meet industry demands.

9. Build or learn a new skill

Learn new skills or brush up on existing ones
Learn new skills or brush up on existing ones

Upskilling or reskilling to cover your skills gap and measure up with the competitive labor market can be a key element of your development plan. The more you learn, the more resourceful you become. Look out for online courses and focus on one hard skill at a time.

Look out for new projects in your niche and apply what you have learned. Take up freelance projects or volunteer work. It will help you evaluate your progress and build your portfolio.

Visit professional or job platforms, study the job descriptions in your niche of interest per company, and write the pattern of in-demand skills. That pattern is a sure guide to own growth.

10. Build your social network

Network more for more opportunities
Network more for more opportunities

You are not an island; you need people at every stage of your growth. Surround yourself with like-minded people and step out of your comfort zone to meet new people that can directly or indirectly contribute to your success.

To build a social network,

  • Sign up on social media and professional platforms

  • Search and follow co-employees, industry leaders, experts in the career niche, hiring managers, and people working on their career growth.

  • Reconnect with old contacts

  • Consistently interact with your contact

  • Post resourceful content and make meaning contributing

  • Mind your attitude and speech

  • Attend seminars and conferences

11. Be open to feedback

Get as much feedback as possible
Get as much feedback as possible

Feedback is essential when developing careers. While you are intentional about your growth, positive feedback motivates you to put more effort.

As you undergo skill training, look for practical ways to implement what you learned and request feedback from co-employees, management, and other professionals. It can be of immense help during challenging times in development.

12. Have a positive outlook

Always try to stay positive
Always try to stay positive

Sometimes the only thing stopping you from achieving your goal, or getting out of your comfort zone to accomplish a milestone, is you!

Always think and see yourself with a positive outlook. Develop attitudes that will help you stay positive regardless of the situation. Attitudes such as replacing can't with can, emotional intelligence, learning from mistakes, and giving yourself a positive or motivating pep talk, can help build a positive outlook for career growth.

It is necessary to be optimistic during stressful times in pursuing your career development. The ability to stay motivated will push you towards a successful outcome. It is vital to have a positive outlook on your career development.

13. Measure and appreciate your progress periodically.

Measure and celebrate your small wins
Measure and celebrate your small wins

Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. A mistake people make is searching for big outcomes and ignoring the small breakthroughs. Focus on the small wins; small wins are integral to getting the big win.

Always measure your progress periodically and reward yourself for doing an excellent job. Note areas you are lagging and put in the work. This way, you will become consistent and won't get overwhelmed.

Final Thoughts

Successful development requires taking control of your growth, developing your professional or business expertise and knowledge in alignment with your growth goals, cultivating and balancing tech, business, and human skills, building a personal brand, and getting your network right.

Determination, self-motivation, commitment, and consistency will go along in achieving development. Decide on what your future development success will look like and create that mental picture.

Be sure about the skill set you want to build and make sure they are relevant to your career growth. Owning your success is investing in your future, own success in the year ahead.

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