As the calendar year winds down, you’re no doubt setting company objectives for next year, but what about your personal goals? How can you take charge of your career and put yourself in good hands—your own? With today’s competitive job market, it’s important to keep your skills finely tuned to meet the needs of your employer and position yourself as an indispensible member of the team.
In light of recent economic events, who isn’t looking at their skill sets and asking themselves, “How can I be more productive and valuable to my employer?” First you need to determine if your skills are up-to-date. You likely put plans together for your company all the time, why not create a personal development plan for yourself. Start with your objectives, then identify tasks, training and development opportunities that will help you reach those objectives. If your company has knowledge gaps or specific needs, create a plan of action to prepare yourself to fill those needs and ultimately make yourself indispensable to the company.
Understand Your Own Value
How can you expect others to understand the value you bring to the company, if you can’t quickly describe it yourself? This doesn’t mean you have rattle off your experience all the time, but as you’re making decisions and communicating in your company, it helps to understand and leverage your strengths and be conscious of improvement opportunities.
When evaluating your skills, it’s important to look at what you do well (strengths), knowledge gaps (weakness), what you can do better (opportunities) and what can deter your progress (threats). Look familiar? A lot of tools you use to make business decisions – like a SWOT analysis can also help you plan and move your career forward.
Be Aware of the Environment
Don’t complete your skill assessment in a vacuum. Make sure you are aware of trends within your industry. What are the environmental factors that are affecting the way your organization does business? Where is the industry headed? Who are the major players in your field and what role do they play in the conversation?
Improve Your Skill Set
Once you’ve done the analysis it’s time to put together a plan of action and determine the additional training you need to achieve your goals. There are a variety of sources you can tap to grow your skills and broaden your knowledge base. Start inside your company with your training department. Also consider networking groups, professional organizations, industry thought leadership events, additional certification or classes to develop specific skills. Leverage networking sites such as LinkedIn and your alma mater’s site to meet other professionals and share knowledge. Don’t just join, play an active role in the conversation – post questions, answer questions, take a leadership role in a group or plan a networking event.
Back to School
If you’re serious about growing your skills and taking on new responsibilities, consider a degree program. At University of Phoenix, the curriculum is built specifically for working learners. Classes can be taken at a campus, online or a hybrid of both. Faculty members work in the fields in which they teach, so they understand first-hand the changing dynamics in the workplace. They build curriculum focused on knowledge and skills that will immediately improve your effectiveness in your company.
Workplace pressures and economic concerns can place personal development on the backburner. However, development is imperative to your long-term career success. In the constantly-changing work environment, keeping your skills fresh is truly the best job security. There is no reason to re-invent the wheel. Take the same strategic planning skills you use at your company to create your own growth plan. Don’t forget to assign dates to the initiatives to keep yourself accountable.
Personal Development Plan
- Objectives (short-term and long-term)
- Personal SWOT Analysis
- Company and Industry Analysis
- Short and Long-term Growth Opportunities
- Personal Plan of Action (with completion dates)
- Marketing Your Knowledge and Growth