For many Americans, a job may be nothing more than a way to make ends meet. You may plan on moving up on the career ladder at some point, perhaps even changing industries or careers altogether. You might wish for more flexibility and freedom in your work life. Turning these ideas into reality can often seem too intimidating, expensive or time-consuming.
However, carefully planning and developing your career can be much easier than you may imagine.
Career development will always take time when done correctly. You will need to work out exactly what your goals are, and how you might go about achieving them. This could involve extra training or education in order to increase your skills and employability. There are even major changes you could make to your work habits, such as working remotely from home or while traveling. Beyond increasing your earning potential, career development means allowing you the freedom to create the career and lifestyle you want.
Career development covers a multitude of goals, objectives and actions. It begins by assessing your strengths, weaknesses, abilities and interests, as well as establishing your overall career goals. You may be interested in a specific industry, a specific job or a position of leadership. Using both your goals and abilities, you will then determine a realistic career path for yourself. This way, you are not limited by your circumstances, nor are you carried away by your personal dreams. Instead, you can develop a viable plan that can be followed step by step. Initially, planning out your career may seem like an unnecessary step, but it is actually very helpful. A good career plan ends up acting like a map to your future and gives you an accurate idea of whether you are making any progress.
If you are already employed in a company, then you may achieve the greatest career advancement by aligning your career development with the aims and objectives of your employers. Your workplace may even have resources designed to assist you in your development, ensuring your increase in abilities and potential will, in turn, benefit the company. This is another reason having a thought-out career plan is helpful since it allows you to clearly view your goals and gives you a baseline to search for what type of resources are available. You can even show parts of your plan directly to someone in your company, such as a mentor figure, to see whether he or she knows of any programs offered through the company that align with your career plan.
Even without the support of an employer, career development is an extremely valuable objective. You can use it to build your own personal career, whether you have just entered the workforce, are changing jobs or simply want a greater level of independence.
Developing and Achieving Your Career Goals
Setting your career goals is the first step in effective career development. This process combines practical thinking with even your most unrealistic professional dreams. In order to judge where you will be able to place your passion and effort, you will need to determine your ideal job. Once decided, you can use this end goal to determine the steps needed to get there. There is no limit to the number of steps you would have to take. However, each step must be realistically achievable by the time you reach the necessary stage in your plan, with a set deadline at every point.
By following these mapped out steps, you can drastically simplify the process of developing and achieving your career goals. You will need to make sure you have a support system around you, able to hold you accountable to your plan, as well as keeping track of every milestone you reach. You should also make a point of revisiting the plan at predetermined points to see whether or not you need to make any revisions. Even the best plans are subject to change. Sometimes, it is because new opportunities present itself which were not available when you first made your plan. Other times, your interests may change, and you find yourself unhappy with the career path you have chosen.
Additional Training and Certification for Career Advancement
The benefit of pursuing additional training or education as part of your career plan is you will already have enough experience to know exactly what you need to focus on. If you hope to attain a new position or a promotion, then one of the most effective approaches is to seek out additional training. Some jobs may even require special certification before you can apply.
Additional training might be in the form of a short course or online class that will provide you with some sort of certification, perhaps in a new kind of processing system or software. Other courses may simply improve or increase your business skills, such as classes in analytics or finances. You may even choose to pursue a higher level of education, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree. These will not only open more positions to you but might also increase your earning potential.
Free Career Development Resources
While attaining a degree, certificate or higher level of training suggests obvious benefits, the process can be far too expensive for many. Paying for a career assessment, classes, workshops or other resources could be a major obstacle in your career development plan. However, you may be surprised at the number of free career development resources available to you. There are many free courses online, offering training in subjects varying from web design to corporate law. You could find the perfect course to benefit your career through a jobs website such as CareerOneStop or My Next Move.
You may also be able to take advantages of resources through your current job, perhaps seeking out the help of an older colleague who can act as a mentor and advisor for your career development. Many companies also offer free training to their employees to help improve job performance.