From when we were asked in kindergarten what we wanted to be when we grew up, our career development began. Not many five-year-olds are blessed with the foresight to know what job will best suit their skillset once they reach adulthood. So you can see our career has always been in development - our vision changing throughout high school and into university to where we see ourselves working one day.
And congratulations if you have found it! Your current career path looks good on you; you enjoy the work, earn a decent income and can’t see yourself leaving this industry. Whilst you may have settled into your career, it doesn’t mean we should stop reaching for new heights. To maintain fulfilment in a role you’re dedicating roughly 40 hours (or more) of your week to, there needs to be a level of ambition.
This is where career development comes in, investing time and resources into advancing your skills and experience to be an ambitious leader. But what are career development activities? How do I develop a career plan in the first place? I’m going to run you through the principles of career development and actionable steps you can start taking today to advance your career trajectory.
What are the principles of career development?
Change is a constant, so there is no point resisting it. You, along with the world around you, are growing and changing every day, whether you like it or not. Once you are open to the idea of change, you are more likely to be open to opportunities coming your way. As we are all changing inevitably, we might as well be taking action which benefits our career path for the better.
Learning doesn’t end as soon as you graduate. Each job or relationship has at least been a learning experience. If you think of our time on earth as constantly ‘in school,’ you will be more ambitious in learning new skills and habits than someone who believes they know everything. Execute this in your career development by striving for personal development daily.
Build your network
Especially in corporate career development, making allies along the way will always be beneficial. It should be the norm to want to build authentic relationships with those you work with; you may spend more waking hours with coworkers than your family. To improve your career development, striving for a strong network of respected peers, coworkers and competitors is essential to building your reputation.
Stay true to you
As much as our careers feel all-encompassing, you need balance. One way to improve your career development is to dedicate time to not only switch “off” but develop passions outside of your career development. CEOs need hobbies too! If you have a hobby outside of work, whether it’s reading SCI-FI novels, making candles, fishing or yoga, putting energy into mastering something you don’t get paid for is proven to improve the quality of your life.
Remember, it’s a journey
Many aspiring CEOs are blinded by their dream title; they fail to see all the value in the process along the way. The final principle of career development is to remember your career encapsulates from your first job to your retirement; it’s not just all about the final title. Whilst an athlete’s final game is important, you aren’t going to value their worth on the last 60 minutes of a lustrous career. Don’t do the same with your career path. Enjoy the journey to greatness. Take a moment to reflect on how far you’ve come, enjoy the view and practise gratitude.
What are career development activities?
One immediate step you can take after reading this article is to set goals for your career development. Sit down, assess your career thus far and articulate where you aspire to be. This is your macro goal, write it down and put it on the wall if you have to remind yourself. All other goal-setting (like increasing earnings or attaining a leadership role) are your micro-goals to help you reach the macro achievement. Include personal goals like maintaining healthy relationships and exercising regularly; they are all helping you along with your career development!
Now you are assessing and setting goals, you'll be more aware of learning and development opportunities available to reach them. It may be enrolling in a leadership course, volunteering or getting a career coach. It is certainly saying yes to all training opportunities within your company to upskill yourself on soft and hard skills in your industry.
As a principle of career development, networking is vital for your career path. As well as networking within your organization and industry, it would help to surround yourself with like-minded leaders looking to advance their career trajectory. If you seek these networking opportunities to strengthen your career development, we invite you to join the Ambitious Leaders Network. This online event hosted by Katie-Jeyn Romeyn features influential guest speakers sharing their career journey and path to success. Not only could this network directly impact your career development, it serves to inspire you to be the best you can be. We would love to see you there.