Are career development tools necessary to achieve your career goals?
A great crafts-person needs good tools to create their best works. And career achievers need good quality career development tools as part of fully realizing the gifts and abilities they have.
This career development article looks at some of the career development tools – both formal and informal, from career development software to professional career development coaching – and how these can help you succeed in your career.
Six of the Most Commonly Used Career Development Tools:
1. One -on-one professional career development coaching.
2. Creating and implementing a career development plan.
3. Using a career development software through the various stages of career development.
4. Using a career development assessment.
5. Peer and colleague reviewing and brainstorming.
6. Employee performance appraisals from past and present employers.
Career coaching is probably the most commonly used career development tool.
Its success is based around the interdependent nature of human beings.
Although many people can achieve success quite independently, most people will be more successful if they have somebody else supporting them and believing in them along the way.
For full details on why and how career coaching works, see my career development coaching page.
Creating a career development plan is one of my favored career development tools, simply because it is easy to produce and it can be done without any outside career change advice.
Although working through a career development plan with the help of career coach will nearly always bring better and faster results.
A professional career development plan forces you to think seriously about what you really want to achieve in your work life.
It then provides a system of action steps and accountability to achieve your career objectives.
Every area of our life in which we proactively plan will invariably result in greater success.
And this is the core reason why career development planning is such an important career tool.
For more information and instructions on how to create your own career development plan see the five year career development plan and the sample career development plan where you will find career development plan examples as well as a download for a free career development plan template.
3. Career Development Software
There are a number of organizations that offer professional career development software.
Often this software is designed with employers in mind to work with their employees for in-house career planning.
But there are opportunities for individuals to use professional career development tools on their own.
Career development software often integrates with employee performance appraisals, career aptitude test and other career development tools to create comprehensive in-house professional career development.
Most organizations use these career development tools to help their staff identify and carry out projects inside the organization that match with the individual’s inborn job skills while fitting in with the organizational goals.
One of the great benefits to employers is that it facilitates the retention of high qulaity staff.
The financial and sometimes the cost of interruption to an positive organizational culture can be quite significant when a gifted and well-liked staff member leaves for another job.
And the organizations that do provide professional career development to staff, become very alluring to potential employees as they see great opportunities for their own career growth.
This results in a win-win situation for both parties.
4. Career Development Assessment
A key component of successful career planning is to implement a periodic career development assessment to ensure you are achieving your career objectives.
This is often integrated into the goal setting review aspect of a career development plan.
If your career planning is taking place in-house, a career development assessment will normally be quite structured and scheduled with human resource personnel.
However if you are driving your own career development plan, you need to incorporate some strategic dates for assessing your own progress.
You can achieve this using a basic goal planning structure or you can use something a little more sophisticated like Single-Step, which is the computerized goal setting software that I use. (free trial available)
Whatever assessment method you take from this career development article, ensure you implement it on an regular basis to achieve your career objectives.
5. Peer and Colleague Review and Brainstorming
Sometimes enlisting the help of your peers into the career planning process can be a useful, informal and one of the most cost effective career development tools.
Although this probably won’t be as valuable as employing a professional career development coach, it does have the benefit of getting some insight from people you work with on a day-to-day basis.
An important step to this is to ensure that those who you enlist will be honest with you in regards to the way they see your natural abilities as well as the areas you don’t have much ability in.
One practical model of this could be where you gather together a small group [4-5] of like-minded people who you either work with directly or have external contact with in your work life [i.e. clients, suppliers, perhaps even colleagues in competing organizations whom you have got to know through industry associations or training days etc.].
Most people in your group will need to have known each other previously for this to be effective.
Some items on the agenda of this meeting could include the following:
[let everybody know the agenda beforehand so they can be prepared]
1. Nominate one person and ask each other member in the group to communicate to that person what they see as their main natural abilities and strengths. [Either record the sessions or have somebody take notes so the recipient has a copy of what was said]
2. Have each person present a basic one to
five year career development plan to the group one at a time.
Brainstorm ideas for each person in turn about ways in which their career objectives could be:
- fulfilled in better ways than the recipient has identified in their plan
- achieved faster
- or in any other way that may improve the career journey of the recipient.
3. Use the group as a career networking platform for each other.
Around 70% of all jobs are gained through the “hidden” job market.
The hidden job market is simply all jobs that are filled without being advertised – most jobs are never advertised.
A good proportion of the hidden job market success flows from relationships between friends, acquaintances and industry colleagues.
One of the first things many employers do when they are looking for a new employee is to ask their current employees and work colleagues if they know of anybody who would be good for the job.
A small informal networking group is well worth considering as one of your career development tools.
6. Employee Performance Appraisals from Past and Present Employer’s
One employee performance appraisal on its own may not paint a very good picture nor be particularly helpful as a career development tool.
However, when a number of performance appraisals are summarized, some important information about you can be gleaned and used as part of your career development plan.
Performance appraisals are only as good as the people who created them.
If the appraisal was written by someone for whom you had respect, then the information they provide about your strengths and weaknesses can be quite valuable when planning future career objectives.
And if a number of appraisals through the years have said similar things about your strengths and weaknesses, chances are they’ll be fairly accurate.
Although a lot of employee performance appraisals are dominated by identifying areas for improvement, the real gems are the areas identified as strengths.
What common strengths and noted abilities have been identified in your past appraisals on more than one occasion?
These are usually the areas for you to put more focus on in your career development plans.
When a number of people see the same abilities in us, it’s good to contemplate on this and consider if we are maximizing our gifts.
In most cases there is room to use our giftedness to achieve more and to achieve it quite easily.
I also recommend completing the inborn job skills assessment to enhance your knowledge of your innate giftedness.
Other topics related to this career development article include: