Advancing your career isn’t just about your next promotion or salary adjustment. Career advancement requires thoughtful investment in your personal development. If you want to move up in your organization or to take your career in a new direction, you need to be proactive about it. With that in mind, here are seven resources your company may have in place that can help you.
1. Assess performance feedback:
Pay attention to the feedback your manager gives you during your performance appraisal meetings. Often, we see these meetings as an opportunity to showcase our accomplishments and influence our compensation adjustment. We forget to pay attention to the details of the performance feedback we receive. These meetings provide an opportunity for you to gain valuable feedback about strengths and weakness in your skill set and can help you to identify development requirements that will help your career progression. Take some time to go back and reread past performance appraisals. Then work to address any identified skill gaps that may be standing in the way of your advancement.
2. Solicit feedback from others:
Many organizations allow employees to solicit 360 degree feedback from others as part of the performance appraisal process. If you can, take advantage of this valuable process. It can help you get a broader picture of your strengths and weaknesses. If this process isn’t done formally within your organization, consider speaking directly with colleagues and managers you have collaborated with about their take on your performance. Seriously consider the feedback they give you, and use it to focus your development activities.
More feedback options at Top 5 Reasons You Didn’t Get the Job.
3. Read your organization’s job postings:
Reading your organization’s job postings is a great way to familiarize yourself with the education, skill and experience requirements for new positions or career paths that interest you. Use these job postings to find out what you need to do/learn in order to qualify for a promotion or to take your career in a new direction. Also keep in mind that many organizations prefer to fill job openings from within the organization so apply for any new positions that interest you.
4. Peruse job descriptions:
Reading job descriptions is another great way to learn about the requirements for that next job you’d like. You can learn about jobs that use your core skills in a different way or you may discover an entirely new position that really interests you. Just like job postings, job descriptions will give you a great summary of the requirements for the position so you know what you need to do to prepare for a new role. Job descriptions are also a great way to figure out if you’d even like the job you think you want.
5. Explore online employee profiles:
If your organization has online employee profiles, browse the profiles of those employees already in a job you’d like to move into and see what their background, education, skills and experience are. It’s another great way to learn more about job requirements and focus your development activities. You can also use them to build your network or identify potential mentors. If online profiles aren’t available, use the old school approach – ask your fellow employees directly about their career history and educational background.
6. Take advantage of training:
Most organizations allot a specific training budget for every employee. Yet it’s amazing how many employees fail to take advantage of this. Find out what your training allotment or entitlement is, and then make use of it. Sign up for learning activities that will help you prepare for your next career move and help make you more valuable in your job today.
7. Sign up for work on a cross-functional team:
Almost every organization has cross-functional teams or committees in place. Sometimes they’re focused on special work projects, but often they deal with business processes, employee engagement issues, customer satisfaction challenges, corporate social responsibility initiatives, etc. Working on a cross-functional team is a great way to broaden your knowledge and skills and meet people from across the organization. It can expose you to different parts of the business, broaden your understanding of your industry and build your network.
If you think creatively, your organization has a number of great tools and resources that can help you define or refine your career goals and help you plan your career development. You just need to take the initiative.
Author: Sean Conrad is a Certified Human Capital Strategist and Senior Product Analyst at Halogen Software, one of the leading providers of performance appraisal software. For more of his insights on talent management, read his posts on the Halogen blog.