Career Development

6 Ways to Take Control of Career Development When Your Company Isn’t Helping

The idea of the “gig economy” is catching on—that of vagabonds who drift from project to project for various businesses, making a career out of contract work. In the face of such notions, some businesses are choosing to pull back on assisting employees with career development at all. Or alternatively, managers are simply too busy with their own priorities to help out. If you work for such an employer, then the ball is in your court to keep pushing your career in the right direction. In an article for Harvard Business Review, Carter Cast shares six ways to do that:

  1. Understand what you’re evaluated on.
  2. Solve for your own blind spots.
  3. Codify your learnings.
  4. Increase your visibility with the C-suite.
  5. Become an expert in an area of increasing importance to your company.
  6. Seek good counsel and mentoring.

Your Career, Your Rules

In the first place, you should ensure you are good at the things you were hired to do. If your boss has never prescribed a formal list of goals and metrics for your performance, then create your own and bring them to your boss for approval. Another thing you can do is actively look to uncover your “blind spots.” For example, Cast says that, after you have delivered a presentation, you could tell your boss you think you did something well with it, but then you ask your boss if he or she has one piece of advice for where you could improve.

You can go a step further by recording in a journal the skills that you think are most important to your position, and then grading yourself in each area. Wherever you grade yourself the lowest will receive the most of your attention for improvement. You can also make a special point of studying up on something new that may be of value to your business, like the Internet of Things. Meanwhile, if you are concerned about your visibility in the company, you can look out for opportunities to volunteer for more work, like pitching in with charity events. These are easy ways to get direct access to senior management.

Lastly, about seeking a mentor, Cast writes this:

The perspective of a senior person is invaluable, but pouncing on someone — “Will you be my mentor?” — is likely to scare them off. Try to meet in an informal way: in the coffee shop in your company’s lobby, or at the company picnic or golf outing. Know the person’s bio, and be prepared to ask a few good questions related to their area of expertise. If things go well, you’ll hear, “If I can help you, let me know.” A week or so later, you can extend an invitation to “continue the conversation” over coffee. In time, a mentor relationship may develop organically.

For additional thoughts, you can view the full article here:

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