Development: If You’re Not Growing Your Career, Who Is?

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Wondering who’s responsible for your career development? Take a look in the mirror. It’s you. Yeah, you. Why? Because no one else is. There may have been a time when employers provided extensive on-the-job training for new, potential or current employees. But in an era of fast-paced, ever-changing, competitive business on a tight budget, that level of training and development is no longer the norm.

So let’s assume your employer doesn’t offer any training. Or you’re self-employed. Or you want to look for a new position that may require different skills. Or you see the trends in your industry and know you need to learn new skills. And let’s combine that with the expectations of employers or clients.  Today they assume that you will walk in the door with all the skills necessary to do the job and perform to a high standard of excellence right away. Employers aren’t looking to train people or take the time for a learning curve—granted, that may be unrealistic, but it is their expectation.  Daunting, right?

Building your own career and seeking your own training opportunities has always been important to independent workers or freelancers, but now it’s a necessity for everyone. It’s up to you to direct your own career and create your own development plan. To get your training started, learn the skills you need, ask for help in getting to the next step, and guide your career the direction you want it to go. There are many options available, but you have to take the time to figure out what you need, find the resources, ask for training, go to the class, do the projects, and make sure leadership knows you want to learn and grow. Others may provide support but you have to do the work.

Recently there’s been a large increase in the number of adults seeking additional education1, which has led to the launches of more business incubators (such as Columbus College of Art & Design’s “MindShop,”) and books like The Career Activist Republic by Peter Weddle.  My creative staffing firm has even started offering some very specific training for skills our clients are desperate to find, but candidates don’t have. These are all signs of people needing guidance and looking for avenues to learn new skills, create and grow businesses, and take charge of their own careers, especially in the creative sector.

Do yourself a favor that will pay off for years to come—sit down and think about where you want to go in the next year, three years, five years, and long term. Then identify the skills needed to get there. Even if you want to continue doing what you’re doing now, it’s important to figure out the skills needed today in your industry. No doubt they have changed, and will continue to change. Even to stay in place you need to move forward. Then put together a development plan for yourself, and seek the resources you need. Whether it’s classes, training, mentorship, business advice, networking, industry involvement or something else, identify what you need and then go find it. Ask your company if they’ll pay for it, and if they say no, pay for it yourself. Don’t let anything get in the way of your career success. Investments in growth and development always pays back many times over. And, if your employer offers training, please, please take advantage of what they’re providing. We all need to be constantly growing, developing and learning because the world of work and technology is changing so quickly. If you’re not moving ahead, you are (by default) falling behind.

This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included. ©2011 Kristen Harris, Portfolio Creative, LLC.

Kristen is co-founder and owner of Portfolio Creative, an Inc. 5000 fastest growing firm for the past three years. Portfolio Creative connects clients with talent in all areas of design, marketing, communications and advertising and was ranked the 16th fastest growing staffing firm in the U.S. by Staffing Industry Analysts. 


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