Career Development: Your Guide to Professional Growth

Career development is more than finding a decent job and performing well in it. It involves a long list of activities and events that pushes professionals to do better in their positions. Further, many call this endeavor a lifetime commitment because it is a continuous journey without a definite and time-bound ending.

74% of workers opine that lacking career development opportunities prevents them from reaching their full potential. It is something that keeps professionals satisfied because it makes them feel that they are working toward specific goals. Regardless of the compensation and benefits, working on a job can be unfulfilling if you are not progressing in any way.

What is career development?

Career development is a lifelong process of making career choices, improving one’s competencies, and finding new opportunities to advance in a chosen career path. Every development is a byproduct of personal circumstances and the person’s reactions to challenges and setbacks. No two persons will undergo the same career development sequence.

Why is career development important?

Career development strongly intertwines with personal development. A person’s satisfaction and stability with their career path positively affect their emotional, psychological, and financial health. Consequently, having a successful career is an influential factor that motivates people to live happy and fruitful lives.

Career Development Growth Trajectory

What are the stages of career development?

Many think reaching the maximum level of career development is about landing the jobs of their dreams. Unfortunately, it is not that simple because career development is an ongoing process that does not end until one decides to quit the workforce. Young professionals may use flow chart creator tools to visually plan these processes and plans. Here is a quick preview of the multiple stages of career development:

1. Exploration

This stage refers to identifying the jobs you can do and those that feel right for you. Always be open-minded at this point because there may be industries and positions out there that could fit you like a glove. In addition, couple your exploration with careful research to avoid committing irreversible mistakes.

2. Skill development

After soul searching, it is time to work on lacking skills that are critical to the career paths you have chosen. Despite being a top graduate or the best apprentice, there is still so much to learn now that you are in the real world. Keep on building essential skills because they will eventually lead you to success.

3. Job search

After knowing what you want and gearing up with job-related skills, the next step would be putting yourself out there. No career path is easy, so expect the job search stage to be brutal. Even with the help of online job search platforms, recent estimates reveal that the timeline for job searches today is around five to six months.

4. Advancement

After finding and fitting into a job, it is natural for any professional to progress in their career. Progress may look different for everyone, and it may happen in two general ways: vertically and horizontally. Vertical career growth refers to ascending from one lower job title to a higher one, while horizontal career growth is about moving into another position or department after acquiring new skills and experience.

5. Mastery

The mastery stage happens when a professional reaches the peak of their chosen career path and becomes an industry leader. Only those who persevere may reach this stage because it can take years of trials, defeats, wins, and comebacks. It will be a long and arduous journey, but reaching this point will be priceless.

6. Career path change

It may be an unpopular statistical fact, but most people change five to seven careers in a lifetime. It is possible to feel like changing jobs or positions even after becoming a master of a specific career path. Experiencing the urge to shift to another path may mean that the career development you are looking for may be happening in another company, position, or industry.

Tips on how to improve your career

A better understanding of career development would reveal that one should manage multiple short-term and long-term goals. Developing initiatives and executing them will take a lot of time and effort, so it is best to prepare for anything. While the challenges ahead will be harsh, some tips can make things bearable. Here are a few:

1. Know your strengths and weaknesses

Self-assessment is one of the most indispensable steps when trying to succeed in a career path and become a competent professional. Before searching for open job positions and trying out ones that suit your preferences, prioritize identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing yourself well will help refine your target list and make the job search easier.

2. Learn to communicate effectively

Communication skills are vital for professionals because these skills facilitate effective interaction with others and minimize the risk of miscommunication. Further, learning how to communicate effectively strengthens one’s presence and authority in the workspace. It will be an important asset, especially for those aiming to climb higher on the corporate ladder.

3. Let go of your limiting beliefs

Limiting beliefs are thoughts that prevent one from pursuing activities that consequently stunt personal and professional development. One of the easiest ways to relinquish this state of mind is to override one’s thoughts with positive and encouraging words. Instead of saying negative things to yourself, try saying gratifying and uplifting words. Please be kinder to yourself.

4. Identify your skill gaps and work on them

Take some time to know your skill gaps and the actions you need to take to address them. A skill gap refers to the deficit of skills you should fill in to satisfy the minimum requirements set by a specific job position. Not having skill gaps will increase your likelihood of acceptance because you are fully qualified for the positions you are applying for.

5. Set short-term and long-term career goals

Career development involves a lot of career planning. In this planning, you should always know your short-term and long-term goals. It is a pivotal step toward career success because these goals set a blueprint of the things you should do and when you should do them. Otherwise, navigating career paths will be more challenging due to disorganization.

Career Development Man Going Up Career Ladder

6. Create an actionable career plan

An actionable career plan consists of specified goals, pertinent timelines, and the necessary steps to complete them. After identifying short and long-term goals, the next step would be arranging them to make things feasible and organized. Flesh out your career plan as much as possible because whenever you need to make adjustments, it will be easier to pinpoint which areas require changing.

7. Stay flexible throughout your career

The purpose of career development planning is to visualize a rough idea of what career success means to you and never to set things in stone. Professionals should allow flexibility to some extent because nothing stays the same throughout the years. Your projected goals and tactics may no longer be relevant since the job marketplace is ever so volatile.

8. Build your professional network

Technically, there is no such thing as self-made professionals because everybody needs somebody to succeed in all career paths. While you work a lot with yourself, you should reach out to others for mutual support and growth. Growing a professional network will be a game-changer because you might meet people who are key to your progress. You can use digital business cards to instantly share your contact information with other professionals during events and follow up later to nurture the relationship.

9. Leverage the power of technology

Keeping up with the world’s digitalization is critical because everything is moving online. You do not have to be at the level of IT and tech experts but it would be beneficial if you regularly update your computer-related skills. Learning more about modern technology will assist you in becoming a more independent and organized professional.

10. Take control of your career journey

Taking control of your career journey means knowing what you need to accomplish to attain optimum professional development. Consistently staying on top of things will help you create timely and appropriate decisions. While you may not know how things will turn out, you must have a strong vision of your goals and have countermeasures during crises.

Courses for career development

Learning is an integral part of career development. The best way to learn during the Internet age is through digital courses because you can view the contents anytime and anywhere. At Skill Success, we have quite an assortment of e-courses that will be helpful to job seekers, career shifters, and even industry leaders.

Resume & cover letter writing courses

One of the most fundamental phases of career development is finding the best career options that suit your skills, background, and other professional assets. But before thinking about landing jobs, you need to catch the hiring manager’s eyes to have a chance at a job interview. These courses will help you draft the most attention-grabbing resumes and cover letters.

Interviewing courses

In interviews, it is not about what you say but how you relay your thoughts. Aim to be your best self and maintain clear communication with the interviewer. If you are having trouble in this department, better learn how to act appropriately because even the most insignificant non-verbal cue can cost you the job.

LinkedIn courses

If you do not have an extensive professional network, LinkedIn is the best place to start. Log in to this platform, create a profile, and build linkages with people from different industries. However, LinkedIn can be challenging for first-timers and those without social media accounts. Learn a few courses to get you started.

Start your career development process today

It is normal to be overwhelmed looking at the success of others, especially when you start at the same time. However, every career path is unique, and you are an author of your own story. While it can feel horrifying, take that first step and brace yourself for what is yet to come.

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