Career Development – What next? In your career

When we achieve that career goal or successfully make a career change, we can start to feel that we have reached our peak, but it is not too long before you start to realise that was not the end, but rather another new beginning. We are constantly seeking news things, constantly in demand, constantly changing.

So what do you say to someone when asked, ‘What next?’ when it comes to your career?

I was stumped by this question recently in a discussion with my mentor Anthony Duckworth from PwC. I had successfully changed career areas just over 12 months ago. I am still learning, still growing, and still developing new skills in this new career area. But it had been more than a year ago since I achieved my career change goal, so what next?

I understand that I am not alone with this uncertainty.

Being put on the spot, forced me to reflect on what I am enjoying most. ‘Well… I enjoy writing and sharing my experiences with people. I hope that as I progress in my career, I can pass on more of my experience with others and motivate them the way a mentor does. I enjoy working with people, and that’s why I enjoy working in a Recruitment Consultancy. There could be opportunities to further develop my career in marketing or gaining more HR experience working as a Consultant; those could be two great avenues I could venture towards.’

Now that these new ideas were starting to evolve, what should I do about it? What are the next steps to take?

Careerealism covered a good article on creating your professional development plan. They established three surprising truths:

1. It is up to YOU – Your professional development is not the responsibility of anyone but you. You can be influenced or inspired in your current workplace, by your manager or your mentor, but ultimately you cannot rely on them to make the decisions for you. And making those difficult decisions ourselves is often how we grow. Use the opportunities you can to gain skills within an organisation and work with great like-minded professionals, but it is also important to gain that confidence to have your own voice and direction in terms of where you want to go.

2. It’s Never ‘Final’ – A professional development plan is not written in stone. It can and it should be revised on a regular basis. We need to be adaptable with our plans in the event that changes may occur, after all, we can set direction but we never truly know what the future holds. Starting the plan is your key to overall success because plans can be revised as you go along, whereas starting from scratch every time can be a long and draining process.

3. It’s Never Done – If you want to continue moving forward in your career, you must continue growing your skills. Learning is a lifelong process and your professional development plan is your career-long tool. As long as you continue to be a professional, your development plan will be a big component of your Career Success Toolkit.

So where am I going to take my career?

Most importantly, I am going to continue to search out opportunities to develop my skills. Over the weekend I attended a business seminar called ‘Become a Key Person of Influence’ held at NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts). This seminar popped up shortly after I met with my mentor and what appealed to me about this course was that it ran through a five-step process on how to become more highly valued and recognised within my industry. A key part of the presentation involved building credibility through writing and publishing. So it felt like it really spoke to me as an individual. If I had not taken the step to attend, I could have missed out on a chance to learn from great entrepreneurs.

Listening and meeting with other individuals in the same situation really brought a sense of relief! We all have ideas, we all have a story and regardless of what our backgrounds are we are capable of achieving measurable goals once we start planning out the process.

I find that I learn most about myself when I take on new opportunities. So keep your eyes and ears open to what is going on around you, and pounce at the opportunities to further develop your skills. It is amazing what learning opportunities so many of us have access to. Whether that is enlisting support of a formal Career Development program and meet with someone to discuss your goals, or attend external business courses, or sign-up for in-house training, or networking to help connect you with others – take the opportunity to develop new skills and learn what you love most.

And if you are like me and have ‘overlooked’ your career development or have become comfortable in your routine, take some time to review your career goals. You never know what doors could open up by redefining where you want to go.

As for me, I am excited to newly approach my goals, find out how to further develop my own personal brand and what I can bring in terms of new ideas and development for my organisation.

Where has your career development taken you so far?