How to Create Growth Opportunities in Your Career
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Key takeaways1. An eye-catching resume should be concise, visually appealing, and tailored to the job vacancy you’re applying for.
2. Use an editable resume template to ensure the document looks neat and clean.
3. Regularly reassess your career goals and development plan.
Spotting and creating career growth opportunities might be one of the most important skills you can learn to train and develop in your professional life. Certifications and core skills can be the bedrock of your professionality. Still, they may not deliver their full potential if you cannot seize new opportunities when they present themselves.
Recognizing these opportunities, however, can take time and effort. Everyone’s experience of work and growth is different. Expectations change based on the market, culture, age, and many other factors. Sometimes, simply understanding what career growth is can be easier said than done. So let’s take it from the top.
What is career advancement?
Strictly speaking, career advancement is the process by which a worker uses their skills, experience, and knowledge to reach new career goals, new responsibilities, and better opportunities.
This answer, however, doesn’t exactly cover the complexity of what career growth truly is. Different individuals will value different advancement opportunities and different career milestones. Some may focus on compensation, others on role development, and others on a positive work-life balance.
While most steps in a worker’s career development will involve a mix of all these elements, the value we each assign to them and how much we want to focus on each of them is up to individual choices and career planning. A raise, for example, will not solve employee retention issues if people are looking for a new job for reasons related to company culture, or to become independent contractors.
With this in mind, we decided to list some behaviors and practices that will help you notice and take advantage of any growth opportunities that may appear over your career, whatever your priorities may be. In most cases, these behaviors aren’t self-standing and siloed but work together and feed off each other to help you map and design a career path that works for you.
1. Prioritize your job satisfaction
Your happiness at work and how that influences your overall wellbeing is a key metric you should regularly keep track of. It can be a signal that the time for the next step in your professional development has come.
“If you feel like your tasks and responsibilities are done on auto-pilot, that you have the mental energy and enough bandwidth to take over more complexity, if you feel like you are spending more time educating your peers than learning from them - it’s time for a change!” Says Danica Ristic, Senior People Development Program Manager at Deel
Determining what elements contribute to your job satisfaction is up to you. Still, once you identify them, you should ask yourself if your current role meets your needs.
When trying to assess your satisfaction level at your current job, ask yourself questions such as:
- Am I happy here?
- Does my job title match my responsibilities?
- Are there any development opportunities in my current organization?
Once you have honest answers to these questions, you can use this information to plan your next steps. You may decide to focus on growing within your current organization, or realize the time has come to develop further in a new environment.
2. Take advantage of learning opportunities
Learning does not, and should not end with formal education. Many other learning opportunities are available that might be even more useful for career development, and can include:
- Mentorship programs
- Interest groups
- New projects
- Online courses
Learning opportunities, however, don’t need to be structured as training and development. You might learn a new skill set from your team members, onboarding tips from your human resources manager, and what points to look out for in a job description from a recruiter.
3. Consider being flexible in your professional growth
While having a solid plan for your career development is an important foundation to build on, it’s equally important to ensure that your plans are not excessively rigid and can easily adapt as your needs change. You should plan for multiple outcomes:
- What happens if I don’t get the job I was hoping for?
- What will I do if the best opportunities are abroad?
- What factors will I consider when comparing two similar opportunities?
Moreover, you should consider breaking down bigger goals and long-term objectives into smaller ones you can work on without impacting your broader plan, whatever their outcome. This modular approach to development can help make your path more clear and more achievable.
“Setting short-term goals for yourself is the first step to creating growth opportunities in your career. By breaking down larger, long-term goals into smaller, achievable objectives, you can make progress towards your professional development in a realistic and systematic way”. Shares Danica again
4. Regularly reassess your career goals and development plan
While it’s certainly true that our preferences, work conditions, and job satisfaction are constantly changing and evolving, these changes can be hard to spot if you are not actively looking for them. Slow shifts easily blend into our everyday routine and developing techniques to identify them can go a long way in ensuring we make the right choices at the right time.
One easy way to do this right is to establish recurring milestones throughout the year when you take a moment to look back at what you wanted to achieve and evaluate if you are still on track, if your goals have changed, or if you might want to set new ones. This helps structure your progress and set deadlines and check-ins for your career growth just as you do in your daily work.
Examples of these milestones can be:
- Your yearly performance review
- The days after you return from holidays
- The first few weeks of the year
- The end of a big project at work
What makes moments like these work for this kind of self-reflection exercise is that they are a break in regular schedules and routines, making it easier to focus on the bigger picture. However, any milestone and frequency that works for you will do just fine.
5. Use networking to boost your career development
Not all growth can be planned in detail. Luck and chance play a big part in how we learn about new opportunities and how accessible they are to us.
The good news is that you can maximize your exposure to valuable information and opportunities by networking and building connections with the people around you. From social media to professional networks like LinkedIn, to random conversations with friends and acquaintances, the more present you are, the more people will know what you are doing and what you would like to do. The more likely it is they will think of you when a new opportunity arises.
This doesn’t mean you should overdo it and self-promote in every conversation. It simply means that building a solid network of people that trust you and your expertise will increase the likelihood of career development opportunities coming your way.
Moreover, interacting with many different people in different ways can be a great way to develop important soft skills and get career advice from different perspectives.
6. Hone your observation skills
Being able to observe patterns and trends is another skill that can be essential when working towards a more effective path to career growth. Like in a chess game, the decisive moves will usually come from observing and predicting what might happen and selecting the most effective action to follow.
- What events might impact your current career or the one you are working towards?
- Can you see opportunities that might not yet be widely known or discussed?
- What can you do to best prepare for these changes?
- What trends are developing in your line of work?
- What are common skills you see in people that are following your desired career path, and do you see a skill gap when comparing their profiles to yours?
- Is your role/company/sector about to face difficult times?
Learning to observe doesn’t mean you have to become a zen master or find details where nobody else is looking. It simply helps you learn how to balance planning and action, a fundamental skill when planning big steps in your professional life.
7. Take initiative
While all the tips above address different aspects of how to ensure you can spot and leverage the best career growth opportunities, they all share one important characteristic: taking initiative.
Self-analysis, networking, and learning new skills can amount to nothing if they are not used as tools for your own personal and professional betterment.
This is where individual initiative comes into play:
- If no interest groups exist in your work environment, why not create one?
- If there are no mentors available, why not work on your leadership skills and mentor someone yourself?
- Join meet-up groups that relate to your interests and professional experience, and if there aren’t any, set one up
- Talk to your colleagues and interact with your network
- Ask questions during your one-on-one meetings, and help employees develop a culture of open communication and support
Some initiatives may be slower than others to develop, some may not work, or turn out to be different from what you were expecting, but each will provide you with new knowledge, experience, and connections that will be key in easing the path of your career development.
Being able to take advantage of the best development opportunities or even create them for yourself is a skill that comes through practice.
The behaviors listed above will be valuable tools in helping you land your new role, understand the job market, and grow your own career, but are many other easy ways to ensure you build the best career path for yourself.