I worked for 7 employers including two Fortune 100 companies and a unicorn startup, and none of them provided me with a decent career development plan.
There were a lot of promises. There were career ladders. There were cycles and performance reviews, but for the most part career development was a buzzword. It came up once a year, I shared my goals and dreams, and then…. Nothing happened.
I don't get it.
Lack of career advancement is (still) the main reason employees leave.
Why is it so hard for employers to help employees grow?
I don’t have the answer, but I do have a solution to this problem. If your employer isn’t providing the playbook or the opportunities you want in your career, create your own career development plan. Let me show you how.
Career Development - DIY
Make a plan
The first rule of growing your career is to have a plan. You need a north star and action items you can follow. Don’t leave it all to chance, luck can be a b*tch.
You can keep it really simple.
Choose one goal, and break it down into action items.
For example, let’s say you want to develop leadership skills.
Start by clearly outlining what leadership skills actually are:
Working on strategy
Now ask yourself: how can I gain these skills? What kind of opportunities will give me the experience I need?
For example: if you want to improve your public speaking capability, you need opportunities to present.
You can present for your team, you can present at an all-hands meeting, you can present cross functionally… you get the idea.
For every goal come up with 3-4 action items that will give you the experience you need.
Tell your manager
While your employer may not have a straightforward development plan, your manager can help you execute the plan you have created for yourself. When you share your goals and plans your manager can help you by creating opportunities, giving you resources (like an L&D budget), and putting you in front of the right people.
Your manager is the most valuable resource you have, use it!
Digg for opportunities
Your work environment constantly changes. People come and go, markets rise and fall, and professions change and evolve. Every change brings new opportunities, but you may miss your chance if you are too wrapped up in the day-to-day to notice.
Put 30 minutes on your calendar once a month or once a quarter to look at your goals and ask yourself: is there a new opportunity to make this happen?
Track your progress
A career development plan is meant to help you grow. You want to make sure the action you are taking is creating the results you want. Tracking your progress will allow you to do that and as a bonus, you’ll have an achievement list you can use to ace your next performance review.
Make your growth a priority
Your career development plan may not be a top priority for your employer, but it needs to be on the top of your list. You don’t need anyone else’s permission to grow your career.
You should always have a career development plan. If your company doesn't offer you one - make your own.
Your career → Your responsibility
I believe in you and I’m rooting for you.