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No matter how successful you are in your career, pursuing growth is always healthy and worthwhile. Learn how to create a professional development plan with this guide from Boss Babe Chronicles, and see how far you can advance your career.
Assessing your professional skills is the ideal starting point for self-improvement. Depending on which skills you want to define, a combination of self-assessment and soliciting peer or supervisor feedback may be appropriate.
Monster also recommends taking online tests and consulting industry job postings to assess your professional skills. A collection of data will help you outline areas for improvement.
Define Areas for Improvement
Once you determine that a knowledge gap exists, it’s time to define what it is and how to fill it. There are three types of skills you might need to brush up on; formal, social, and experiential.
Formal skill-building takes place in educational courses or degree programs. After meeting course objectives, you earn a grade, credential, or degree that certifies your abilities.
Social development often involves networking and collaboration with other professionals. Social situations help you hone soft skills like communication and public speaking, plus boost emotional intelligence.
Experiential development involves experiences that build skills in real-world scenarios. Gallup notes that key experiences are prized in professional leadership roles as they offer authentic development opportunities. Experience-based skill building might look like an internship, on-the-job training, or completion of a particular project.
One formal way to build skills is through a degree program. Many jobs (or promotion opportunities) will require an advanced degree. Plus, online programs are flexible enough to complete while working full-time.
If you’re considering a remote education program, you should take a look at bachelor’s degree offerings. Though a degree takes time to earn, you can apply your newfound knowledge to your current job as you work through courses. You can check it out for more info.
Goal setting will be central to outlining your professional development plan. Yet many people struggle with setting and achieving goals. For the best odds of success, MindTools recommends setting SMART goals that are clear and reachable.
SMART refers to specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. These well-defined goals might still be challenging to reach, but they will be doable. Breaking goals into smaller pieces also promotes a sense of accomplishment since you can check them off while working toward a larger overall goal.
Setting well-defined goals gives you clear objectives, but an action plan or timeline ensures progress. As the T in SMART suggests, time-based goals are clearer than open-ended objectives.
Incorporate ‘due dates’ into your professional development action plan and hold yourself to them. BetterUp points out that developing self-accountability can be challenging, but it’s essential in professional and personal growth.
Planning small rewards for each milestone might keep you on track, but an external accountability partner is a valuable backup plan, too.
Achieving goals along your professional development path is an inherent reward and should be celebrated. Keep track of each achievement or milestone to help maintain motivation and document how far you’ve come.
If your ultimate goal is a farther-off target, like earning a degree or achieving a promotion, a clear picture of progress helps visualize the finish line. Roadblocks may crop up, so strategies for overcoming setbacks will be instrumental, notes Success.
Knowing how to manage your self-talk and approaching setbacks as learning experiences are great first steps.
A rewarding career is about far more than earning an income (though a comfortable salary is also appealing). From going back to school to tackling challenging projects and building skills in your spare time, putting in the work pays off in the end. At the end of your professional development roadmap is a career—and skill set—you can be proud of.
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