By Kim Monaghan
Welcome to one of the biggest career-changing climates in the history of employment. With the “Great Resignation” and the intensive search for the elusive qualified candidate, change is everywhere.
But knowing opportunities abound doesn’t mean you’ve got your next career change in the bag. Employers are hungry, not desperate. That’s why career growth and development are fundamental to your success.
You need to prove that whether your career change comes from an employment gap (your choice or otherwise) or an itch to try something new, you’ve been learning all along.
What Does Career Growth and Development Mean?
Career growth and development is a subjective phrase. In other words, interpretation of what “growth” and “development” mean is up to the decision maker. But for our purposes, we’ll define “growth” as proof of positive change and “development” as continual learning.
Again, these can be interchanged and extrapolated, yet the words illustrate how you’ve moved the needle from where you were in your career last year to where you are now and where you plan to go.
The good news is it’s a job seekers market. Hiring authorities are searching high and low for qualified candidates who are willing to do the work and stay with the organization. But that doesn’t mean that they’ll settle for someone who hasn’t demonstrated career growth and development.
If your career change means starting your own venture, you can bet potential clients want to know that you’re a go-getter who prioritizes growth and development, too.
With that in mind, to become a sought-after candidate, entrepreneurial success, and for your personal goal attainment, here are seven tips on how to plan your career growth and development.
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1. Accept Changes
Many professionals struggle with the idea of change, thinking that change means they’re abandoning something they’ve started. Many also avoid change because it’s scary, new, and uncertain.
On the contrary, change means that you are mature enough to know it’s inevitable, so you are wisely choosing to step into something different that will benefit you and those around you.
Positive change signifies growth and development. Change is your announcement to the world that you are moving up, stepping out, or jumping into something even better. It also signifies that you understand that change is necessary to build and sustain a successful career of any kind.
Even if changes occur multiple times in a short period, it’s okay. You’re consciously managing your career growth and development while navigating impediments to your success.
An executive client of mine changed organizations three times in one year. Though he initially felt embarrassed by his job hopping, others were impressed. They applauded his ability to know what wasn’t working and to have the guts to make changes that they wished they had.
Forget everything you think you know about career change and look at it as a healthy opportunity to start a new path of career growth and development.
2. Career Change Is a Fresh Start
Regardless of how much you’ve grown and developed over the years after you’ve made a career change, start fresh with new goals.
Even if you took a new job six months ago or quit because your organization wasn’t aligned with your career plans, start exploring today what you want out of your career and life. Perhaps, you want to learn a new skill, become a manager, start a business, or excel as a leader.
Each of these goals has specific, measurable steps required for attainment. S.M.A.R.T. goals broken down by months, weeks, and even days will guide you along the path of growth and serve as motivation as you progress.
3. Metrics Are Empowering
Earlier, I mentioned metrics, meaning any tool of measurement that illustrates career growth and development. This might look like the number of courses you’ve attended, percentage of increased sales, amount of goals attained, total projects completed, the number of conferences attended with accompanying ROI reports, or any visible outcome that exemplifies continual improvement.
Even if you don’t share these details in an interview or your annual review, they serve as confidence boosters and motivation for continuing your personal success.
If you should decide to start a side hustle, metrics attract clients. Take life coaching. Many people are jumping into this field simply because it takes little expense for startup and well, all of us are experts in life, right? But when it comes to getting clients, your word that you’re a “life expert” isn’t good enough.
Potential clients want to see proof of your career growth and development, such as certifications obtained, the number of clients coached to date, and related education and training completed. And they want to see that you not only prioritized your own career growth and development but that your clients’ lives and careers demonstrated growth, too.
4. Growth Doesn’t Mean Promotion
So, you didn’t get that new title last year. Don’t equate that with lack of growth. What is important is the progression that you’ve made. Perhaps, you’ve become more enlightened, savvy, agile, introspective, mature, resilient, or respected for the work that you do.
Often, supervisors have commended team members for their growth because they see evolution in how they interact with others and how people react to them. This type of growth is widely lauded and appreciated, though it’s unfortunately not recognized and rewarded enough. That’s why it’s important to ask for feedback and frequently self-assess.
Of course, growth can mean promotion, getting a new title, new role, new salary, or a new level of increased responsibility. Remember, growth is proof of positive change however that is defined.
5. Growth Includes Personal Evolution
Think about how much you’ve learned since you’ve made your career change. This might include hard skills such as a new software program or project application. But soft skills are at the core of growth.
I once worked with a woman who was highly agitated and anxious every time something didn’t go her way. When something was out of her control, she would blow up at those around her. She became the person no one wanted to work with.
After a 360 assessment and a frank conversation with her supervisor, she became more self-aware and desirous of change. After months of coaching, she demonstrated significant growth. No longer volatile, she had learned coping skills to help control her anxiety and release it in more socially-acceptable and healthy ways.
Conduct your self-assessment, or ask for others’ feedback. Discover where you need to grow and make a career plan to help you get there.
6. Development Is Empowering
Who doesn’t want to learn something new? Every day you read books and articles, watch the news and social media posts, and experiment with seemingly innocuous activities, such as trying out a new game, meeting new people, exploring new cuisines, or even driving a different route to work. Guess what? That’s learning.
While it’s typically not something you’d put on your resume, it’s reinforcing to know that you’re hardwired to learn. With that in mind, the possibilities are endless.
The resources available for development are countless. From webinars to formal education, YouTube to mentoring, there is no reason why you can’t design and launch your personal development plan. It’s emotionally rewarding, and it opens doors to opportunities.
Need proof? Watch an episode of Shark Tank. Millionaires are born on that show, but they arrived there via their personal development plan, learning how to build a business and attract customers.
7. Never Stop Growing and Learning
Career growth and development aren’t things you should ever abandon. Even if your career change was stepping into early retirement, don’t stop learning and growing.
Take time at the beginning of each year and each month, especially at the start of a career change, to consider how you want to grow and what that will look like in measurable terms at the end of each month and year.
Ongoing career growth and development are good for your career, spirit, and physical and mental well-being. An aggressive and exciting carer growth and development plan help keep you agile, connected, independent, and confident, and it serves to enhance longevity in your professional life.
With all the positive outcomes of career growth and development, take time today to look ahead at where you want to go.
A career change—whatever that may look like—is the perfect time to start a new journey that will serve for the rest of your life.
*Kim has over 16 years experience coaching, training and consulting in the human resources industry.
*This article first appeared on lifehack.org website.