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5 Tips for Taking Control of Your Professional and Career Development

One thing we should work towards as active members of the labor force is constant improvement and development. As the years go by, people...

One thing we should work towards as active members of the labor force is constant improvement and development. As the years go by, people acquire experience in their field, and along with it a certain level of knowledge. This knowledge puts people in a position where they can potentially be promoted to a higher level of specialization, thereby exposing them to higher levels of professional development.

The concept of stagnation is an antagonist to career growth. When people get to a level in their career where they choose to be complacent or stay in their comfort zone, the results can be downgrading. Asides losing opportunities to upgrade their positions, they also lose vital knowledge. We are in an age where working smart is considered more optimal than working hard. This applies to every field of specialty in the world.

The idea of professional career development is one that should be taken up as a responsibility by every person aspiring to achieve more in their field. It’s essential to understand that developing yourself is not akin to searching out a simple service on Rather, it is a conscious effort to add value to your life by boosting your professional and career development and honing your skills to suit the higher level you are aiming for.

When we use the term ‘taking control’, we should understand that it puts the 100% responsibility on us. Our career growth is often being influenced or controlled by something, or someone. The something might be present conditions, our self-belief, skillset, and so on. The someone might be your boss or even family. The truth is, what we allow is what takes charge. This is why, it’s important that we alone hold the reins to our career improvement because we are the only ones that know what we want.

How do we achieve this? Here are 5 tips that can guide us towards achieving optimal career growth.

1. Mentorship
It does not mean that you have to become a mentor, rather that you have to find one that would act as a ‘parent’ figure in relation to your growth. Till date, mentors are known to provide some of the best career advice. This is especially true for people who have gotten to the peak of their professional growth and possess tons of invaluable experience.

When choosing a mentor, you have to be specific with what you want to learn from the person. Not everyone who reaches the peak turns out to be a good mentor figure. Do your research carefully, then select a person you know can connect you without any issues.

2. Goal setting
Probably the oldest tip in the book, but ‘old is gold’ as they say. As a professional, you must be conversant with long and short-term goals. You should also understand why goal-setting is very important. Setting long-term or short-term goals is one of the ways to prevent people from being stagnant. It also gives people something to work towards and is a perfect way to filter what you don’t want happening in your growth process.

3. Workshops/conferences
Investing in workshops and conferences might be one of the best steps you would take in developing yourself. You can choose which one to focus on, taking into account your goals. If your goals are geared towards professional development training, search out conferences that encourage such. If, on the other hand, you want career growth, choose the appropriate workshop. The training you receive in these events is instrumental in aiding you to reach your set objectives.

4. Searching out a competency list
A competency list shows you the various skills and criteria you need to be at specific levels in your given career and professional stage. This is essentially like a requirements list and is very useful in helping you deduce the skills you already have. It also directs you towards the ones you need to work on, as well as the ones you haven’t even acquired. It’s a good way to start the whole process of improving yourself.

5. Thinking outside the box
Mentorship? Check. A list of goals? Check. Events and conferences? Triple check. Is this all there is? Of course not! Did you know that volunteering is a possibility? Volunteering is a good way to put into use everything you learn and achieve the objectives you set. Another thing could be finding groups of professionals in your field that are committed to what you want to achieve. You will get to learn from them, share your opinions and challenges and even some assistance in fulfilling your goals.