Here are some concrete ways to keep your skills and knowledge current by taking charge of your career development.
First, decide what you want most to be doing in your career. What is your purpose? What do you feel most passionate about? Does your job complement for your interests and talents? Are you in the right spot—one in which you can learn and grow?
If the answers are yes, consider the skills most essential in your job/industry today. They may be hard skills like mastering new software programs and social media platforms, or soft skills like communicating more comfortably with clients, coworkers and those in partner organizations.
Once you know which skills to concentrate on, seek out the resources you need. Ask your boss or HR manager what classes, seminars, conferences and workshops are available to you and if your organization will pay for them. (If not, it’s a good idea to save up to pay for them yourself.)
Another way to deepen your knowledge of your job and industry is to ask questions of those you work for and with. Suggest lunch with someone you believe has sharp insights. Additionally, read relevant business books or listen to them via smartphone or MP3 player. You might also take on a stretch project, one that will teach you new things and give you fresh successes to show management.
While you’re about it, make sure to seek out a mentor. This can be your boss, a colleague or even a friend or family member. Choose someone with whom you’re comfortable, who can give you feedback, a new point of view, and constructive criticism.
Finally, teach others what you know. When you need to explain a process or a concept to colleagues, you’ll find yourself really getting “inside” of it and seeing it through their eyes. This will give you a fresh perspective and work wonders on your confidence.
The business world is constantly changing, and we must stay a step ahead of change to thrive. Remember — no one will take the initiative for you. Give yourself an extra edge—own your professional development today!