As I work with new graduates and early careerists, one of the most important things they tend to want in a job is opportunities for professional and career development. Sometimes, clients don’t have a specific idea of what “development” means but they do know it is important to continue to develop in order to achieve career advancement, expanded job roles and titles, and hopefully higher salaries.  As we delve into the concept of development, development becomes wanting feedback, mentoring, classes (ideally paid), and stretch assignments. Other things considered are associations which require dues and fees, and certifications, which require money, time and sometimes work requirements. success roadsign impossible sunset

In the ideal world, organizations will have structured processes for employee development. Improved performance management systems help employees and managers create development plans, set goals and action steps, as well as look at job growth in the organization and achieve placement in high potential development programs. But many times it is left to the employee to manage their development.

Below are eight tips to help manage your professional development:

1) Determine what your current skills/knowledge and abilities are. Start a list, ask for feedback from your manager or peers, or use different competency models on line to determine your level of proficiency with skills such as communication skills, written skills, influence, strategic planning or even Excel.

2) Determine what you need for your next two roles. Do you want to be an expert in your field or a leader? Or do you want to transition to a different position or industry entirely?

3) Determine what and where you can gain the skills – mentoring, coaching, observation, formal training, certifications, etc.

4) List the resources you have available including simple things like free or almost free online classes through Coursera or similar courses.

5) Rate and rank the importance level, resource level and what will give you the most leverage the quickest.

6) Choose one fast/quick/cheap action and choose one with that takes a bit longer to achieve and has lasting impact. For example, I needed to learn how to speak/present in public. I joined Toastmasters. The results were not immediate but long-term it was one of the best investments I ever made in my professional development.

7) Budget, budget, budget.  If you need help with determining a development budget, feel free to use this professional development budget template. 

8) Take the hard job. If there are task opportunities, take the hard one and then succeed. Success comes to those who do the seemingly impossible, not just the possible.



Know someone who is stuck with their career development?

Feel free to contact me for a free consultation at


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