One of the greatest assets of a chosen profession is the opportunity to learn continually and grow. Lack of career growth and personal development are both listed among the most commonly cited reasons why people leave their positions. Providing opportunities to grow and develop within the workplace is not optional as an employer; it’s a necessity.
But career and personal development are, however, also the responsibility of the individual. Employees should manage their development, even more so than their company might. After all, who will ever take as much interest in your personal skill advancement as you will? Don’t rely solely on your company to provide learning opportunities so you can advance to the next step in your career. Consider this a partnership with your current employer: companies need to create and offer opportunities for you to learn and grow corporately while you need to take ownership for your development personally.
With that in mind, let’s discuss some ways to take control of your personal development. With the explosion of technological learning tools, virtual networking, and the hyper-connectivity of social media, opportunities abound to hone your skills:
Switch your brain “on” during “off” times –Any time you’re not working can be an opportunity to hone your skills, particularly while commuting. Apps are available on all platforms to allow you to sharpen both soft and hard skills. Everything from learning a new language to learning to project more confidence is available to you. Take advantage of online courses from multiple sources like The Khan Academy and Apple Online University. Both of which offer an array of courses that cover the gamut of specialist, functional classes to personal skills development and leadership. Even major universities like Harvard and Cornell offer the opportunity to audit courses online. Learning on-demand is more popular that ever. Take advantage of it.
Get involved – Finding other like-minded individuals in your chosen field or along the same lines of interest is an excellent way to expand your social network along with your skills and abilities. Local networking, professional association and or industry forums are a great way to stay active in your community, and could expose you to entirely new environments that can expand your knowledge and skills. Many professional associations hold educational events that are engaging, fun, and a great way to expand your horizons.
Find new opportunities where you are – Sometimes, there are exciting new opportunities to learn and expand your skills steps away from your desk. Seek out special projects with other departments and ask to get involved in initiatives that will allow you to stretch your skills. Don’t wait for opportunities to come your way; proactively seek them out.
Stay informed - Make sure you stay current on news and events, particularly within your industry and chosen profession. Social media, websites, and news programs help deliver a constant stream of information, but apps that deliver breaking news can help you stay on top of what’s going on a moment-to-moment basis. Podcasts are an excellent way to gain insight from industry experts and to expand your horizons, and they can teach you anything from language skills to travel tips. Simply put, constant knowledge gives you first-hand knowledge of the skills currently in demand, as well as those likely to be valuable in the future.
At the end of the day, keeping yourself knowledgeable and marketable is the best way to ensure your value with your current employer, as well as positioning yourself as the top talent in the eyes of prospective employers. Seek opportunities to expand your mind and skills at work and home, and your career will continue to skyrocket accordingly.