Just because opportunities abound doesn’t mean you’ve already decided on your next career move. Employers are hungry rather than desperate. That is why career development and growth are critical to your success.
You must demonstrate that, whether your career change is the result of an employment gap (your choice or not) or an itch to try something new, you have been learning all along.
What Exactly Is Career Growth and Development?
Career development and growth is a subjective term. In other words, the decision maker determines what “growth” and “development” mean. However, for our purposes, we will define “growth” as evidence of positive change and “development” as ongoing learning.
Again, these can be interchanged and extrapolated, but the words demonstrate how you’ve moved the needle from where you were last year to where you are now and where you intend to go in your career.
The good news is that it is a buyer’s market. Hiring managers are looking for qualified candidates who are willing to do the work and stay with the organization. However, this does not imply that they will accept someone who has not demonstrated career growth and development.
If your career change involves starting your own business, you can bet that potential clients will want to know that you, too, are a go-getter who values growth and development.
With that in mind, here are seven tips for planning your career growth and development in order to become a sought-after candidate, achieve entrepreneurial success, and achieve your personal goals.
1. Embrace Changes
Many professionals are afraid of change because they believe it means abandoning something they’ve started. Many people avoid change because it is frightening, novel, and uncertain.
On the contrary, change indicates that you are mature enough to recognize that it is unavoidable, and you are wisely choosing to embark on something new that will benefit you and those around you.
Positive change represents progress and development. Change announces to the world that you are progressing, stepping out, or leaping into something better. It also indicates that you understand the importance of change in order to build and sustain a successful career of any kind.
It’s fine if changes happen several times in a short period of time. You are actively managing your career growth and development while overcoming obstacles to your success.
In one year, one of my executive clients changed jobs three times. Others were impressed by his job hopping, despite his initial embarrassment. They praised his ability to recognize what wasn’t working and to have the courage to implement changes that they wished they had.
Forget everything you think you know about career change and see it as a positive opportunity to embark on a new path of professional growth and development.
2. A Career Change Is a New Beginning
Start fresh with new goals, regardless of how much you’ve grown and developed over the years since making a career change.
Even if you started a new job six months ago or left because your organization wasn’t aligned with your career goals, you should start thinking about what you want out of your career and life today. Perhaps you want to learn a new skill, advance your career as a manager, launch a business, or excel as a leader.
Each of these objectives has specific, measurable steps that must be completed in order to be met. S.M.A.R.T. goals broken down by months, weeks, and even days will guide you and motivate you as you progress.
3. Metrics Are Informative
I mentioned metrics earlier, which are any tools for measuring career growth and development. This could be the number of courses you’ve taken, the percentage of increased sales, the number of goals you’ve met, the total number of projects completed, the number of conferences you’ve attended with accompanying ROI reports, or any visible outcome that exemplifies continuous improvement.
Even if you don’t mention these details in an interview or in your annual review, they will serve as confidence boosters and motivation to keep up your personal success.
Metrics attract clients if you decide to start a side hustle. Consider life coaching. Many people are entering this field because it requires little investment to get started and, well, we’re all experts in life, right? When it comes to attracting clients, however, your word that you’re a “life expert” isn’t enough.
Potential clients want to see evidence of your professional development and growth, such as certifications, the number of clients coached to date, and related education and training. And they want to see that you prioritized not only your own career growth and development, but also that your clients’ lives and careers grew.
4. Growth Does Not Equal Promotion
So you didn’t get that new title last year, did you? That does not imply a lack of development. What matters is the progression you’ve made. Perhaps your work has made you more enlightened, savvy, agile, introspective, mature, resilient, or respected.
Supervisors frequently commend team members for their development because they notice changes in how they interact with others and how people react to them. This type of growth is widely praised and appreciated, but it is not sufficiently recognized and rewarded. That is why it is critical to solicit feedback and self-assess frequently.
Of course, advancement can imply a new title, a new role, a new salary, or a new level of increased responsibility. Remember that growth is evidence of positive change, however it is defined.
5. Personal Evolution Is Included in Growth
Consider how much you’ve learned since making a career change. This could include learning a new software program or project application. However, soft skills are at the heart of development.
I once worked with a woman who became agitated and anxious whenever something did not go her way. When she felt out of control, she would lash out at those around her. She became the person with whom no one wanted to work.
She became more self-aware and desirous of change after undergoing a 360-degree assessment and having an open conversation with her supervisor. She showed significant progress after months of coaching. She had learned coping skills to help control her anxiety and release it in more socially acceptable and healthy ways, and she was no longer volatile.
Conduct a self-evaluation or solicit feedback from others. Determine where you need to improve and create a career plan to help you get there.
6. Development Is Enabling
Who doesn’t want to expand their knowledge? Every day, you read books and articles, watch the news and social media posts, and try out seemingly innocuous activities like playing a new game, meeting new people, trying new cuisines, or even taking a different route to work. What do you think? That’s how you learn.
While it’s not something you’d put on your resume, knowing that you’re hardwired to learn is reassuring. With that in mind, the opportunities are limitless.
There are numerous resources available for development. There is no reason why you can’t design and launch your personal development plan, from webinars to formal education, YouTube to mentoring. It’s emotionally rewarding, and it opens up new possibilities.
7. Never Stop Learning and Growing
Career development and growth should never be neglected. Even if your career change resulted in early retirement, you should never stop learning and growing.
Take some time at the start of each year and month, especially if you’re starting a new career, to think about how you want to grow and what that will look like in measurable terms at the end of each month and year.
Ongoing career development and growth are beneficial to your career, spirit, and physical and mental well-being. An aggressive and exciting career growth and development plan keeps you agile, connected, independent, and confident, and it increases your professional longevity.
With all of the benefits of career growth and development, take some time today to consider where you want to go.
A career change, in whatever form it takes, is the ideal time to embark on a new journey that will serve you for the rest of your life.