What no one tells you about career development

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So you have worked hard and managed to complete your studies and have secured your first job. Obviously, the next step is to master the corporate game and land your dream job after working your way up through hard work and dedication.

Once you are settled, you start to realise that building your career requires more than just putting in the time and effort to understand your work. Building a successful career requires transformative leadership where you adapt to situations that sometimes require you to be the leader and sometimes the follower. It requires you to be a team player and most importantly – it requires you to be intentional. Here are a few things no one tells you about career development:

  • You are responsible for developing, planning and managing your own career

You must always take charge when it comes to your personal and professional growth. Set up daily or weekly catch-ups with your direct line manager and their line manager as these two people play a major role in defining your career at any organisation.

  • Have a development plan

After documenting your objectives and your roadmap of your planned career journey. You need to draw up a development plan that identifies the gaps in the technical or soft skills you possess today and compares them to the skills you will need in the future, depending on which role you want to grow into. Learning will always bridge the gap between the skills you have and that skills you need and learning happens from experiences and training practices.

  • Ask for feedback

Learning can also happen through feedback – the exchanges we have with others can help us understand our blind spots better. You should regularly ask your colleagues, peers and manager for feedback on your work as well as on your softer skills as those become more important as you grow into your career.

  • Build a Professional network

Relationships are an important part of building a lasting career but it is also important to remember that networking is about giving and taking. Building a professional network is about building mutually beneficial professional relationships. For example: you volunteer your time to help on a project that in turn can help you close out skill gaps on your development plan.

  • Get a Mentor and a Coach in the organisation

The mentor usually guides you on building leadership skills that will enable you to start influencing business decisions. The coach is there to help you on the technical skills required for your job and they can help you understand how your daily operations link to the strategic vision of the company so you can start to add value.

Building a career is a continuous process that comes with learning. Building a career requires you to be intentional and to be proactive and lastly – patient.

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