Invest in your career, whether you are staying put or seeking promotion

growth-453479_1280Have you ever been complacent or comfortable at work? Perhaps on autopilot?

That was me at one stage in my career. With my children, a great job, good salary…life was rosy. I was coasting along. And then I started to notice that my peers were moving on and changes were happening around me. The landscape was shifting and the wake up call came when someone externally was brought in above me.

I hadn’t given much thought about planning for my career. At the beginning, it was all about getting a job and a good salary. Admittedly, I was pretty naïve. I wasn’t proactive in finding out what pathways to progression existed or what I needed to do to plan ahead to progress my career.

Two decades on, the work environment is even more volatile and shifting. Whether you are happy where you are in your career stage or wanting to actively progress you need to Give yourself the edge and take ownership of your development


Being stretched, stimulated, gaining new skills and knowledge, staying up to date with changes in technology and in your field … can lead to:

  • Increased productivity
  • Make your work more interesting
  • Re- invigorate your passion for what you do
  • Increase your confidence and morale
  • Build your transferable skills sets
  • Expand your competency and capability
  • Increase your professional attractiveness and credibility

…all of which will stand you in good stead for any future promotion or in today’s marketplace, keeping your job.

Career development does not necessarily mean career advancement. But it does mean that you are actively engaging in learning and development and are continuing to add value to your organisation.

Some ways to develop within your current role

Identify your strengths.What are you good at? What strengths are you utilising at work? What talents are you not using and how can you put to work?

Studies have shown that people who use their strengths on a daily basis are 6 times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. For example, if you are good at organising and do this competently outside of work, why not volunteer to put your organisational abilities to use. You could offer to organise the staff team meeting. It might be a job that your manager dislikes doing and one which you can take on demonstrating greater responsibility.

Identify areas that you need to develop. What skills and behaviours do you need to be better at or to develop? Discuss with your manager and demonstrate how by acquiring these, they will help to improve your performance and that of your team’s or department.

Find out if there are any in house programmes that you can attend. Ask if there is any budget or funding that you can access for attending a training course or gaining an extra qualification.

Massive open online courses (MOOC) offer anyone with access to the internet the opportunity to study for free. Try the Open University’s Future Learn or US based ones such as Coursera or Udacity

Show initiative– are there areas in your department or team that could be improved? For example, systems, processes, ways of doing things… that people complain about but no one actually does anything about it?

In one of my early managerial positions, there were no development activities for staff. I offered to organise a weekly lunch and learn. Each week we would explore a different topic. As people became interested, they took turns in hosting a session which showcased their specialist knowledge, skills and interests.

Find a mentor – identify people within your organisation who have the skills, qualities and behaviours that you admire. Be brave and pick up the phone and ask them out for a coffee. Ask them how they developed their skills or qualities, what advice they could give. Be bold and ask if they would be able to mentor you. They may also be able to offer advice and guidance in directing your career growth and direction

If there is no one within your organisation, source a mentor from outside

Grow your network inside and outside of your organisation – connect and build relationships. This will help you to widen your perspectives, gain further insights and serve as connections for possible future job prospects.

Be a mentor– offer to mentor a junior colleague. It will help you to develop your leadership and communication skills, broaden your perspectives and you will have the satisfaction of helping someone to develop.

If this is not possible within your organisation, there are many opportunities for mentoring through local schemes or national ones

Go beyond your department / organisation- are there projects within your company that you could get involved in, that would benefit from your expertise and skills? This will help to open up your organisational perspective and grow your contacts, connections and profile.

You could also try volunteering for roles within your community such as becoming a trustee of a charity, a governor in a school, member of a community group or a sports clubs.

Take control and be proactive in developing yourself. Jobs are no longer for life. With a rapidly changing work environment, it pays to invest in developing a career with updated skills, knowledge and wisdom which will give you the edge – whether you plan to stay where you are or aiming for progression and promotion.

Good luck


Image courtesy of Pixabay

What’s holding you back from achieving those dreams & ambitions that you carry in your head? Fear of failure, lack of belief & confidence…time to BE BOLD. 1 day programme for women on 7 March with all proceeds to Children with Cancer UK



About verawoodhead

I'm an executive coach, leadership facilitator and learning & development consultant working with managers and leaders to develop the skills and behaviours to inspire performance and drive results; achieve promotion ; make successful career changes, be resilient and thrive at work. Within organisations, I help to facilitate better conversations, design learning interventions which deliver practical and lasting solutions aligned to business strategy and goals. Connect with me on Twitter @verawoodhead
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