9 Tips to Take Control of Your Professional and Career Development | D2L
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9 Tips for Taking Control of Your Professional and Career Development

  • 4 Min Read

Whether you’re looking to be stronger in your role or make a career move, you have many options.

Professional and Career Development is about YOU—your needs, your desires, your goals, your gaps.

Taking control of your own path is a perfect way to demonstrate what you have to offer!

Here are nine tips on how to get started!

Look for a competency list or library

Competencies describe the skills, abilities, and knowledge needed to be successful in a particular role. Review the competencies listed for your role and consider how you want to grow/develop. Look at another role’s competencies and consider what you need to do to grow.  With this information, you can better target your learning and development opportunities and have more informed conversations with your manager.

Professional development or career development?

Next, consider your short-term and long-term goals. Is the goal to become stronger in your role in the short-term and making a career move in the long-term? Or are both short-term and long-term goals? There is no right and wrong. There are many ways to laterally grow and develop. Getting clear about this in your own mind (and being ok with whatever the answer is) will help you to have more tailored and fruitful growth conversations and allow you to be open to the options available.

Consider job shadowing

Not yet certain about your future growth goals but curious about various roles? Don’t want to invest too heavily before gaining more knowledge about your options? Job shadowing is an easy and inexpensive way to learn more about the different roles in your company. If your organization has no formal program, reach out to someone you’d like to shadow and see if they’re available. Not sure who? Discuss it with your manager or human resources business partner.

Find a mentor

Once you’ve established which skills you’d like to develop, look around! Is there someone who already has them? A formal or informal mentoring relationship is a great growth and development opportunity!

Monthly learning opportunities

Many companies offer monthly in-person and online learning opportunities that often include more general personal and leadership development sessions like DISC, Leveraging your Strengths, 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, etc. Not sure if this available to you? Start by asking your HR/organizational development/learning and development colleagues.

Invest in a professional membership

Professional memberships are an inexpensive method for updating knowledge. Typically offering industry events, conferences, workshops and other professional development opportunities, on-demand learning, e-newsletters, journals, webinars, and more, they are a worthy investment. Some companies will even reimburse these kinds of memberships!

External courses/conferences and learning events

Investigate external learning opportunities. Identify the skill or learning area that you’re wanting to develop, look at your options, and consider the cost/benefits involved in attending. Discuss what you want to learn with your manager and ask if there are professional development dollars to support your attendance.


Professional and career development occurs in SO many places. Here are a few thoughts to get you started:

  • Volunteer! Think about volunteering when you consider your professional and career development plans. There are many development benefits from volunteering: networking, retaining and sharpening old skills, developing new skills and others you can learn about here.
  • Podcasts! Audio broadcasting on the internet! Here are a few popular examples to get you started. What’s so great about them? They’re easily accessible on your own time, great for auditory learners, and are free or low cost!
  • Peer2Peer groups provide an opportunity for individuals in similar roles or functions to exchange advice and best practices. Consider participating in local groups or networking events in your area.
  • Committees! Consider joining one of your company’s committees (e.g. health and safety, social, environment, etc.) to develop your leadership, influencing, and organizational skills.

Talk to your manager

After doing some homework and considering your goals and options, talk to your manager. Discuss your growth and development desires. Bring any information that you feel will support the development conversation—including DISC results, your resume, any 360 or feedback results you may have, your proposed development plan, etc.—and ask for their support.


A few things to remember…


  1. People leaders are human. Some are going to know exactly what to say and how to support you. Others will not be as well-equipped. If growing in your profession and career is important to you, you can’t let this be a reason to stall. KEEP GOING. Talk to someone else. Remember that people at various levels of the organization have influence.


  1. Expect roadblocks. You won’t always get the dollars you were hoping for. The time off to attend a conference might not be provided. That person may not be available to mentor you. That role might be offered to someone else. DON’T GIVE UP. These are simply signs that those opportunities were not for you. Yours is coming.


This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse 



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