Archive for March, 2015

4 Simple Professional Development Tips


When you’re reporting to your job day after day, it’s easy to get distracted with to-do lists and performance results. At some point, you have to ask yourself: are you really growing as a professional? In the business world we tend to think of growth in terms of titles and salaries, but there are other metrics to measure professional progress and simple steps you can take to improve your development on a daily basis. Whether motivated by competitive advantage or the journey of self-improvement, most of us just want to be better today than we were yesterday, right?

Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Assess your surroundings. Associate yourself with the resources available to you at home, as well as at work, that will further development in any area. Does your company offer tuition reimbursement? Take extra courses in your area of expertise to stay up to date, or take a class in a new discipline that might help you in your job. If tuition reimbursement isn’t an option, try cost-friendly options like joining professional groups on LinkedIn or Meetup, or scan Groupon for self-taught courses. Whatever you do, don’t stop looking for opportunities to learn something new or see things with a pair of fresh eyes – the worst thing for your professional development is to remain stagnant.

2. Challenge yourself. This goes hand in hand with being aware of your resources. It’s one thing to be aware of opportunities, but you won’t get anywhere without actually making a move. Change is never easy, but if you are willing to challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone, it gets easier the more you do it. If you have active resources available to you, take advantage of them! Ask your manager for new projects outside of your typical responsibilities. Challenge yourself to complete a course or even pursue another degree. Scan the environment and, above all, take action! If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.

3. Be helpful. Identifying your opportunities and taking action is helpful in itself, and that’s a great start! You also want to be considerate of others – it definitely has rewards. See an email from a colleague about needing help figuring out a problem? If you have the answer or knowledge, volunteer your expertise! It creates the stage for you to showcase your skill and problem-solving abilities, and more importantly, it also promotes synergy while positioning you as someone who works effectively with others. Never pigeon-hole yourself with the thought that ‘that isn’t my responsibility’. Everyone’s responsibility is to advance themselves and their company, regardless of job descriptions. If you can help, do it.

4. Find a mentor. Doing so can have one of the biggest impacts in your career. Keep in mind: mentors don’t always have to be a manager or in a managerial role. They could be a colleague who is great at what they do and shares that knowledge with you. It could be a family member who you respect and admire, or a coach who has great leadership skills. In essence, a mentor is someone who recognizes your abilities and helps you find ways to develop and sharpen those skills; they challenge you to become a better version of yourself. An effective mentor will have the experience, insight and/or relationships you don’t (yet); this will help guide you on a successful career path. Their support might open greater doors than you can by yourself, or at least help you get your foot through it. There’s no limit to how many mentors you can have, and if you’re lucky enough to make those connections, nourish them and always show your gratitude.

Following these 4 fairly simple tips will help you expand your skills and become a more well-rounded professional. You don’t need to make it a huge deal, keep it simple. Learn a new word each day. Stay an extra 15 minutes to finish that project. Answer the email that no one has responded to. Take a 4-week course.

Be better tomorrow than you were today.

Govig or Go Home!