Specific parts of your career plan are going to involve how you grow as a professional. After you achieve your career goal you’re also going to need to keep growing for promotions, expansion, adaption, or avoiding boredom.
A big part of your career is improvement of who you are. No, it doesn’t end, sorry. Growth is another major element of the Job Basics.
Now how you can grow varies – but these are common areas of career growth in all careers, and wether you’re starting out or are nearly there, this is what you want to do – and do right.
Know The Basics – And Learn Them
Any growth plan should include learning the basics of whatever it is you want to do. Skills you have to get, certifications, knowledge, experience, etc. There are certain things you need in place to get where you want to go.
It’s easy to get to 90% of the basics and not have that 10% – that one piece of software you need, that experience you didn’t get, etc. That can hold you back again and again and you may not figure out why until its too late.
If you research a career you should be able to find these basics easy – but don’t make assumptions. Do research, talk to people, look at classes, read up on successful people. The basics are not always clear.
A grand example I found is in my field of Project and Program Management – writing skill was extremely valuable. However it seemed to be assumed that skill was just something people picked up. There wasn’t enough push for “damn it, know how to write!”
- Write down all the skills you think you need for your chosen profession. How many do you have? What could you have missed and why?
Sure, you need training for your career, but that comes in many forms. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking only a degree or only a specific class matters. Training could be:
- A degree (of assorted kinds)
- A specific class that teaches that one important skill.
- An online tutorial that fills in the blanks.
- A book with exercises you can use and practice.
- A hands-on seminar for skills you have to truly experience to use.
Training confers two benefits:
- It confirms that you were trained – you took the class, got the degree, etc. That’s valuable – and a kind of “shorthand” on your resume and in interviews.
- It teaches you to actually do something and you can prove it.
When it comes to training the second should always be part of your training. If you get something just to look good, it will probably be obvious. For nearly two decades I’ve heard many people comment on useless degrees, “paper” certifications, and more. Something may look cool, but actual growth is what matters.
Where to start? Well that depends on your career plans, but from online tutorials to colleges you should be able to find the information you need.
- Pick three of the kinds of training you need. Where would you get them?
I always harp on certifications, and it’s time to pluck the strings once again here. Certifications are great.
Certifications acknowledge that you passed certain tests,took certain classes, etc. They are recognized things that says “this person put in the effort and knows something. Probably.” There’s plenty of worthless certifications, so be careful, but good ones are worth it.
Good ones look great on resumes. Having a string of letters and titles after your name is shorthand for “this person knows what they’re doing.”
You should always – always – investigate certifications that fit your professional goals. Getting them can direct your energies and help you set goals along with the other benefits. I find they’re great things to reach for along with their other benefits.
Check out a professional association or talk to pros you want to emulate to find out about good certifications.
- Go find one certification relevant to your career (hint: software or technology certifications are almost always useful) and determine how you’d get it and how much it’d cost.
Do A Project
Always, always have a Project of some kind to do. It could be related to your career, it could be totally unrelated, but I find having something to put time, energy, and focus in to makes us better careerists.
Wether it reinforces your career or not, doing tis means you’re always setting goals, acheiving things, and reaching. It’s good training in general for life itself.
I find Projects tend to all into two categories – more career related or totally disconnected, with very little middle ground. I think thats because, for those of us who are careerists what we do and like are related, and because we sometimes need to get away. It’s very strange when people talk to me and I can discuss how I still do websites (normal for people into technology) – and then I’m big into cooking and nutrition.
Sometimes, by the way you can combine Projects in ways that surprise you. Like someday I want to do a cookbook – and that opens new ways of thinking and cooking and publishing. In turn, someday that may make an interesting gift for co-workers.
Never, ever stop growing. The world changes, technology changes, you change.
Even when you get where you want to be – in fact before you get there – you should have an idea of how you’ll keep growing. It could be as simple as learning a new piece of software or as complex as getting a graduate degree. But always have some idea of “next.”
Most of us who are geeks always are growing anyway, but it helps to be aware of this.
No next step. You probably have one all your own.
Expand Your Horizons
Always seek to do a bit more, learn new things, try new things. It gives you a chance to grow and keep yourself fresh. It could be something as complex as going to another country “just because” or as simple as trying to watch a series of movies you’d heard a lot about. But alway keep shaking yourself up.
I think this keeps us from becoming stagnant. We can grow in too narrow an area of our lives – we need to find new areas.
It also lets you add new skills you your repertoire and keep you fresh – plus you never know when it’ll be relevant. A very handy friend of mine has suggested I make an herb garden for my cooking, which is tempting as its not only cooking but would be a totally new experience . . .
OK we discussed growth, so let’s get on to getting a better sense of what’s up in the world . . . the place you’ll be looking for jobs.
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach. He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.