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Nurturing Your Career Development

By Melany Gallant (For Halogen Software)

Regardless of where you’re at in your career – starting out, restarting your career, or well- advanced in your path – it’s important to nurture your career development and progression. The question is: how to do that? While many employers offer a variety of supports, not all do. And many employees never take advantage of what’s available to them. Here are some ways you can take control of your development so you can grow and thrive in your career.

Listen to Feedback

We all get feedback from a variety of sources at work: our manager or supervisor, our colleagues, our customers, etc. They tell us about what we do well and what we could improve. Hopefully you’ll get feedback through a formal performance review process, and maybe even a 360 degree review process. But you’ll also get informal feedback on a regular basis. Or at least you should.

Pay attention to the feedback you get and use it to help you to identify both the strengths you can play on as you progress in your career and the areas you can develop. Try not to get defensive when you receive negative feedback. Instead, see it as an opportunity for growth and development. Ask yourself: what’s one thing I need to learn or need to do differently to be more effective in this area? Then take action to develop in that area. If you’re not getting enough feedback, be proactive and ask for it.

Use Up Your Training Allotment

Most companies have an annual ‘training allotment’ for their employees – a budget amount or target number of training days. If you don’t know what your allotment is, find out by asking your manager or HR rep. Then make sure you take advantage of the opportunity by participating in formal training that benefits you and the organisation. You can make use of the feedback you’ve received to identify your development needs and opportunities. You can often use your annual performance review process to discuss learning needs with your manager and identify appropriate learning activities your company will sponsor.

Follow Your Passion and Use Your Innate Talents

Stop and think about what you’re passionate about and what your innate talents are, and then try to leverage them in your work. It may require a change in jobs or career direction but often you can just more consciously make use of your talents and passion in your current role. You’ll find you’re happier at work and may feel more empowered and fulfilled. Back in 2006, I met and fell in love with social media. It became my passion. So I consciously worked to leverage social media in my various marketing roles and eventually specialised in PR and social marketing. It’s changed the nature of my career and has helped me advance, doing something I love.

You can do the same.

Volunteer

Most of the learning we do is on the job. So volunteer…

  • For work assignments that challenge you and require you to learn new things.
  • For cross functional teams or projects where you can learn from others, expand your network and learn about other career paths.
  • For things like your company’s social responsibility committee or social committee where
    you can bring your skills to bear in a new way.
  • For an outside work industry association or professional organisation where you can play a role in your profession, network with others and learn new things.
  • For a charitable organisation where you can pursue your passion, develop new skills and
    expand your current ones.
  • To mentor someone – it’s amazing how much we learn when we support someone else’s learning and development.

Your Version of Success

Success looks different for everyone. Your goal should be to achieve your potential, to make use of your talents and to make a difference in the workplace and the world by being the best you can be. Look for career development opportunities everywhere and take advantage of all the resources at your disposal.

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