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13 Tips on How to Plan Your Career Growth and Development

What is one tip for a young professional on planning career growth and development? To help you effectively plan your career growth, we asked CEOs, career coaches, and the GET Phoenix community this question for their best insights. From going on informational interviews to taking advantage of online certificates, there are several tips that may help you plan your professional development and reach your career goals. Here are 13 tips these leaders give on planning out career growth and development:

  • Go On Informational Interviews

  • Pick Growth Over Title

  • Show Up and Show Out

  • Seek Out Alumni Through Your College Alumni Network

  • The Little Things Are Just as Important to Consider

  • Ask the Right Source

  • Set Long and Short Term Goals

  • Grow and Foster Your Professional Network

  • Say ‘Yes’ to Every Learning Opportunity

  • Get Advice, Not Feedback

  • Treat Your Career Like a Brand

  • Understand Relationship Leadership

  • Take Advantage of Online Certificates

Go On Informational Interviews

Go on as many informational interviews as possible. Utilize social media platforms such as LinkedIn to meet industry professionals and gain insight on their experience. They can highlight specific skills that are needed as you develop in your career or trends in the industry. In doing so, you never know of the opportunities that could come knocking at your door, either.

-Natália Sadowski, Director of Aesthetics, Nourishing Biologicals

Pick Growth Over Title

If you are starting your new career, it is better to take a job that may have a "lower" title because it will offer you opportunities to learn. Learning structure, processes, and how to be organized in your day-to-day will help you build a strong foundation for future jobs and promotions. Don't pick a job just because of the title if you aren't fully ready for that position.

-Bailey Mosley, Marketing Manager, Pedal Haus Brewery

Show Up and Show Out

Never dim your light in an effort to make others feel comfortable with their decisions. Make your choices, and own your choices. Commit to growing every day because you never know who's watching. Dress a step above the rest. Speak with confidence. Walk with assuredness. Look as if you OWN the place. Know your brand. Don’t back down. Show up, and show out!

-Bridgett McGowen-Hawkins, Speaker, Author, Publisher, BMcTALKS Press

Seek Out Alumni Through Your College Alumni Network

One way that I was able to build a quick and strong network when I moved away after college was by tapping into my university's alumni network. Having gone to a Big 10 school, I had a large alumni network around the world and the career services from campus provided access to emails and contact information for all the alumni from the business school that we graduated from. This made finding mentors as well as getting a foot in the door for an interview in my chosen field much easier than submitting cold applications to companies for jobs.

The Little Things Are Just as Important to Consider

Consider your everyday experience, daily tasks, duties and responsibilities, and how you will spend your time in your desired career. Many fields sound great on paper but have daily realities that are less than ideal for some professionals. Being a lawyer, for example, is a desirable career path for many young professionals. That is until they shadow a lawyer or ask for an informational interview only to learn that the career is more paperwork than television dramas lead us to believe. What we do every day eventually becomes our life experience. The little things are just as important as the big ones to consider when our satisfaction and life goals are on the line.

-Justin Soleimani, Co-Founder, Tumble

Ask the Right Source

Have high standards for who and what advice you are taking. Be it online or social media or even a close friend or family member, ask yourself "Is what I am being told fact, a subjective experience, clickbait, or something else less than trustworthy?"

When it comes to your career, seek out those who are experienced yet open-minded. Experience and stubbornness are better than no experience and naiveté, but as I stated first, have high standards.

-Juan Kingsbury, Talent Strategist, Career Blindspot

Set Long and Short Term Goals

Set short and long-term goals and how you're planning to achieve them. Use your short-term goals as check-in points and how far along you are to reaching the long-term milestone. Do you need to learn a new skill? Do you need support from senior leadership? Whatever it is, write them down and create a plan. This sets you up for success and holds you accountable along the way.

Grow and Foster Your Professional Network

The phrase "It's not what you know, it's who you know" is not entirely factual, but there is a lot of truth to it. You have to be able to demonstrate your values, skills, and strengths to any given career opportunity. However, building your professional network to grow your reach, connections, and knowledge is just as necessary. Effectively increasing your network requires being thoughtful (do your research before you reach out), brief (time is precious so if you're asking for something, be direct and kind), and a two-way street (offer up your help, time, or expertise in exchange).

-Carolyn Moore, Founder & Career Coach, Wildlight LLC

Say ‘Yes’ to Every Learning Opportunity

Learn as much as you can in your chosen profession. Say "yes" to every opportunity to learn and get involved with your organization and network. Everyone in your professional circle has something to teach or add to your growth and development. It's important that you are a sponge in the early parts of your career. It will continue through to the later parts as well but during the first few years of your career, the growth and development opportunities are yours for the taking, as long as you're willing to step up and say yes!

-Megan Blanco, Internship Coordinator, Career Coach, Adjunct Faculty, University of Central Florida

Get Advice, Not Feedback

I recommend asking for advice, not feedback. What's the difference? A lot, actually. We typically see feedback through a negative lens which puts us on the defensive. The result is we spend time justifying our position instead of listening to what the other person has to say. Instead, ask for advice. "What do you recommend? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?" It's a more positive orientation that allows the person giving advice the space to voice their inner experience. It feels "safer" from the young professional's point of view as well because it's not about them. The result is they're free to accept or reject the advice based on what makes sense to them. It's easier to listen because you're not wasting time composing your mental response while the other is speaking.

Treat Your Career Like a Brand

Think of your career as your brand. When you're planning growth, whether in the far future or in jobs you're applying for today, it's smart to ask yourself how these roles will impact your brand. For example, if you're trying to build a career in software engineering, it's not valuable to your brand to take positions that are well outside of tech. Young professionals should approach their own development the same way brands approach their business decisions — ask yourself if something aligns with your vision and goals before committing to it.

-Brian Munce, Managing Director, Gestalt Brand Lab

Understand Relationship Leadership

Begin your Leadership education early with a focus on how to build strong relationships. This will enable you to better understand how and why things progress a certain way. When the time is right, and with the understanding of Relationship Leadership, you will be poised to succeed in your leadership role. With this cornerstone set, you will easily set examples for others and create the desire for them to follow you.

Take Advantage of Online Certificates

Take advantage of online certificates. This is a great way to improve your professional skills on your own time. For example, if you're working in eCommerce, consider taking a Google Analytics or SEO course online. These certificates can be added to your resume and will help you stand out amongst the competitive crowd.

-Randee Machina, Director of Marketing, Simpli Pleasures


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