Professional development is one of the most important aspects of your career. Unless you go back to school and get your Ph.D., it’s hard to know what will help you make a bigger impact on your career. At this point, there are so many resources that it can be difficult to know where you should start first. Here are things you can do to help you develop professionally.
1. Get Clear on Your Personal and Professional Goals.
Create a list of long-term and short-term goals that have meaning for you personally and professionally. Then create a plan on how you’re going to achieve each goal. Where possible, ensure that the steps related to your goals are measurable.
2. Keep a Journal.
You can use a journal to keep track of things like your professional development activities, personal development, and general progress. Don’t make it too long; you don’t want to wear yourself out or give up if it’s not a productive activity. You can also use your journal to schedule some time every week to review where you’re at professionally, journal about your goals, and create plans for achieving them.
3. Think Career Not Jobs.
Make sure you’re thinking about your career and not just a job. This will help you to have a longer view of things and allow for more holistic thinking about the various aspects of your professional life. For example, if you keep changing jobs because they don’t fulfill you, think about what might be missing at work or how you can change your current situation to work.
You may also advance your education and build your skills when thinking long-term about your career. If you hold the same job for a long time, think about how to build on your current position and advance while still being in the same role.
4. Find or Get a Mentor.
A mentor can help you with your professional and personal development by giving you advice on a specific area or simply having someone who understands what it’s like in the workplace.
Sometimes people will use the term “mentor” when they mean someone who has similar responsibilities to them, but there are still benefits to having a mentor, even if it’s not in a supervisory role.
5. Ask for Feedback.
Asking for feedback is one of the best ways to improve your professional performance. While you can ask for feedback from your boss or a direct supervisor, you can also ask peers and colleagues who may be more willing to provide more honest feedback. One way to ensure that you get meaningful feedback is to give the person clear instructions on the areas you want them to focus on. Sometimes, people will be too afraid to tell someone they need to work on something if they don’t give clear instructions.
Connecting with others can help you learn and build relationships, with is a great way to improve your professional skills. You can meet people during workshops and other educational opportunities, find people at work that you can learn from, join online forums and groups, or reach out to your contacts by phone or email and ask them whether they’d be willing to connect with you. The more networking opportunities you have, the more likely you will be able to meet new people and develop professional relationships.
7. Learn a New Skill.
There are so many ways to learn new skills that can help you improve your professional development. Some common examples include studying a new programming language, completing a short course, or reading more books on your current area of interest. You might also consider learning how to market yourself better, which is probably something you haven’t had much training in if it wasn’t required at work.
If you want to improve your professional standing, you can’t just rely on what is happening at work. While it’s understandable that you may be too busy with your job to take on extra responsibilities, there are proactive things that you can do to help build your skills and further improve your professional career.