Yes, it’s a pun, but it’s making a good point. You have to keep an eye on your career even when you’re well established in your job.
Think of yourself as in training for your next job. This may sound bizarre, but actually, the experience and skills you acquire in your present position are your credentials for the next one.
The experts have a name for it: continuous professional development. But the concept is simple – advance your career by improving your skills and learning new ones while at work.
It’s not a question of being disloyal to your present employer. People who sharpen their skills at work are more able to adapt to changing business needs and bring greater value to an organisation, says Niace, which promotes adult learning,
Its 2015 survey shows that almost half of working adults have taken part in learning in the previous three years. So best get on with it then.
Before you talk to your boss or the HR department. Ask yourself a few questions:
– Where would you like to be in five years?
– How does your current role fit in with that objective?
– Are there opportunities in the present job to improve your skills?
– How can you learn new skills while at work?
Seize opportunities within the organisation
Is there someone in your office whose expertise you admire? Ask if you could shadow them at work. What you learn could improve your ability to handle your current tasks. (Remember to be tactful – you don’t want colleagues mistakenly thinking you’re after their role.)
Maybe there is a vacancy in a different part of the company where you will get the chance to acquire skills that will help you to achieve your five-year objective. If you have the confidence, put yourself forward for the job.
Offer to help on projects outside your area. There is always the potential to pick up know-how within a business, but you have to be able to contribute to the project you are joining, so give the team leader good reasons to accept your help.
If your company supports a charity or a local business organisation maybe you could get involved. A secondment, if only for a few hours a week, will put you in a completely different context and broaden your experience.
Look beyond the business
Investigate if there are any ‘day release’ education programmes, sometimes with funding for employers. As this will take you out of the office, assure your boss that you will be able to manage the extra workload and keep them abreast with your progress.
Look at your most recent appraisal and see if there are areas in which you could improve your performance. Read the professional journals, join a business workshop or networking group where you could learn from others. Online courses, forums and webinars are other options.
Use social media to follow experts in your business or field. They may be giving talks or presentations that you can attend.
Keep an eye on adverts for roles that you fancy outside the company. Where do you fall short? Take steps to plug that gap so you can pick up the knowledge needed to get to the next stage. All the work you’ve done to improve your skills in your current role, will make you more attractive for your next one.
Even if you’re not working at the moment there’s lots of ways of gaining new knowledge. After all, most of us keep abreast of things that interest us and continuous professional development is just another way of keeping that momentum going.
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