We all do it, don’t we? We get comfortable in our current ‘job’ and stop paying attention to our ‘career’. According to the Wall Street Journal, fewer than 50% of Americans are happy in their job. That means most of us are going to work each day wishing we weren’t. The good news is that you can do something about it.
I see two things happen with great regularity. The first is people who are simply miserable in their current job. Rather than do anything about it, they stay since it’s easier, they think. Looking for a new job is a lot of work and you don’t believe you have the time. Or perhaps you feel guilty ‘sneaking around behind your employer’s back’ looking for a new job. These are valid concerns, but the truth is, if you’re not happy, you’re likely not performing at your highest level. That could eventually lead to your employer making the decision for you. There are a myriad of ways to passively look for a new job and there is no better time to start than now. You’ll be doing yourself and your employer a favor!
The second, and somewhat more disturbing thing I see are people who are fairly happy with their current situation, perhaps even very happy. So they do their work, paying attention to the here and now. What they fail to do is think ahead. What is it they need to move to that next level in the organization? Or what is it you need to remain competitive in the market when it comes time to go after that new job?
Some companies are great about offering professional development opportunities. If you’re working for them, consider yourself lucky and take advantage of the offerings! If your employer doesn’t offer programs, don’t sit around waiting for something to happen. YOU OWN YOUR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT! It’s your career, so do whatever it takes to keep your knowledge, skills and abilities current and competitive.
There are many ways to advance your career:
What about your resolution to do something about your professional development?
Or, maybe you’ve been thinking it’s time for a well-deserved sabbatical and you’re putting it off because you’re concerned about its impact on your career?
Yes, many people make New Year’s resolutions to improve their career, but then reality sets in. You WANT a job you love. You WANT some time off to simply ‘be’ with your family. You WANT to take some courses or certificate programs to grow your career. But, life gets in the way. You work too many hours. You’re torn between family, work and other commitments. Well, the truth is, you can carve out the time to make your career, and your life, what you want it to be.
For those of you dreaming of a new job. You begin by surfing the job postings online. Occasionally, you find something that looks really good, and it’s really easy to simply use your old tired resume and upload it, hoping for the best. No results? No surprise. The job hunt is hard work and it’s constantly changing. It takes a crisp resume targeted for your desired job, a professional LinkedIn profile that brands you appropriately and grabs recruiters’ attention. And, yes, it takes networking and sharp interview skills to impress and land that job.
Those of you desiring to continue your professional development. Well, YOU own your professional development. Don’t sit around waiting for your boss to recommend you for something. Find out what you need, then what’s available, and go for it. There will never be the perfect time. Now is THE TIME.
And finally, you’ve been working long days for years. Your family is growing and you’re feeling out of touch. Or you always had dreams of traveling while you’re young. Well, do it. Just do it smartly. It’s no longer taboo to leave the workforce for a time. Just do it deliberately, with intention, and plan for your reentry.
Can you do all of this alone? For many, yes. If you need someone to be your Sherpa, to guide and help you along the way; someone who’s seen it all before, find a career development professional to help you plan your next move. Don’t put it off any longer. You know you want it and there will be no better time.
Last Fall, I spoke at an women's leadership event. The topic I chose was owning your professional development. A wise person once told me, “Never take a class that isn’t for credit or do work that doesn’t build your resume.”
Those are words I have lived by ever since. Keeping this sage advice in mind, I’ve constantly paid attention to my learning and have thought strategically about my career, and my life (I don’t believe they exist independently).
I learned this lesson much later than I now wish. You see, I floundered about in my career for some time. But once I realized that I own my own professional development and took that to heart, I invested the time and effort to grow my career, bringing me to the level of success I now enjoy. But it didn’t happen until I made it happen!
Yes, you own your professional development. Don’t rely on others to do it for you, or to lead you to it. It’s your career. Take charge and do what’s necessary to grow it.
Arriving where I am today and knowing the mistakes I made as well as how to overcome them is what drives my passion to help others. Whether working with people internal to an organization or individuals seeking a career change or entrepreneurship, I believe everyone has a dream that should be realized.
YOU own your professional development! I did an internet search of ‘own your professional development’. It returned more than 40,000 results. Browsing through the articles, I noticed many of them contained the same word, ‘complacent’. It’s so easy to become complacent, work your job every day and just skate by. Working by day, playing by night. But as I’ve seen all too often with my clients, that job can evaporate in the blink of an eye. You might be laid off, or the company sold, or moved to a faraway city. If you don’t take your professional development into your hands, your career in all likelihood, is going to grow stagnant. Then, if and when something happens to your job, you’re going to find your skills outdated, your mindset stuck, and find it very difficult to compete in the workplace.
Here’s what I learned through my own trial and error.
Step 1: Know yourself. Take any one of the many personality assessments: Myers Briggs, Strengthfinders, or DISC. The better you know your natural strengths and work WITH them, the happier you will be and the more successful you are likely to be. Identify the work that best suits who YOU are.
Step 2: Build a vision or goal for your professional objective. I’m a big believer in vision boards. Visually seeing your goals will help you achieve them. When I set out to return to Seattle 4 years ago, I had 3 very distinct goals. Within one year, I achieved them all simply because I knew what they were and kept working towards them.
Step 3: Assess your gaps. There will be gaps between the knowledge, skills and abilities you currently have and those that you need to achieve your goal. Look at job descriptions for where you want to be. What education is required that you don’t have? What technical skills? Soft skills? Once you’ve identified them, they will go into your plan and you will WRITE OUT THAT PLAN. Dr. Gail Matthews found in her research that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you commit them to writing.
Step 4: Have regular check ins with yourself. Keep your plan where it’s visible and periodically revisit it to, see how you’re doing.
Step 5. Look into company sponsored development opportunities. Look into tuition reimbursement, company sponsored programs, conferences, find a mentor at work, and ask to take on special projects.
Step 6: Take a class, and yes, you may have to pay for it. Why not? It’s YOUR development. A few places to look are colleges for both undergrad, graduate or certificate programs, professional organizations, MeetUp, Eventbrite, and General Assembly here in Seattle.
Step 7: Read audio books, paper books, whatever you prefer, and practice a new skill. Nearly everything you need to learn is in a book somewhere.
Step 8: Volunteer opportunities are everywhere and provide a great way to get real experience in something you think might be right for you. Contact your local non-profit, school, or community center.
Step 9: Webinars are everywhere and cover nearly every topic imaginable.
Step 10: Network. Get out and talk to people in professions you think you might enjoy. Hear what it’s really like.
Step 11: Read, read, read some more. Yes, I’m a big believer in books and always have a stack of them nearby to read through.
Never stop learning. It’s the path to your future, and it’s your responsibility to forge that path.
Andrea's passion is to see you achieve your professional dreams. Whether you are a corporate leader seeking leadership development for your employees or an individual seeking guidance in building your career or preparing for retirement, she will coach you to success.