In the growing world of work, career development is essential. It helps us explore new opportunities, enhance our skills, and land better job positions. The concept of career development can be overwhelming for some, but it doesn’t have to be. In simple terms, career development involves creating a plan that guides your career path. This article will explore the four types of career development to help you take the right steps for your professional growth.
1. Formal and Informal Career Development
Formal career development is a structured approach in which an organization empowers its employees to improve their current skills and knowledge or learn new ones. This type of career development utilizes various methods such as training programs, workshops, seminars, and other learning opportunities to help employees reach their fullest potential.
The main goal of formal career development is to assist employees in enhancing their performance and productivity, which in turn adds value to the organization. By providing targeted training and development opportunities, organizations can help their employees stay motivated, engaged, and committed to their work.
One prominent method of formal career development is job rotation, where employees are rotated between different departments to gain a broader perspective of the organization. This enables employees to understand how each component of the organization works, and it also helps them identify areas they would like to specialize in. Job rotation can also help organizations identify individuals with potential talent and skill sets that could be honed for more significant roles.
Another facet of formal career development is mentoring. Mentoring allows employees to partner with senior employees or experts from outside the organization to obtain guidance, feedback, and career advice. By partnering with a mentor, employees can learn from someone who has experienced the same challenges they might face in their career. Additionally, mentoring provides a safe environment for employees to share their aspirations and receive honest feedback about how to reach their career objectives.
A well-structured performance management system is also an essential and integrated element in formal career development. By setting goals and objectives aligned with the organization’s objectives, performance management aims to clarify employees’ expectations and performance levels. The system focuses on assessing employees based on their performance, not on personal factors. Reviews conducted through performance management systems help employees evaluate their progress on their career journeys, learn about their strengths and areas of improvement, and receive support in the form of constructive feedback.
Lastly, formal career development programs provide employees with learning opportunities through training and development programs. These training sessions may include specific skill development training related to their job functions or general training such as leadership programs or interpersonal communication skills. Organizing training sessions enables employees to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed, boosting their job satisfaction and confidence, leading to a stronger sense of commitment to the organization.
Formal career development is a powerful tool for an organization to attract, motivate, and retain talent, enhancing the overall structure of the company. Organizations must recognize the significance of formal career development to help employees grow their skills and develop their careers within the organization. With a well-structured formal career development program that offers a mix of training, support, and mentoring, the organization can foster a productive work environment in which employees feel valued, empowered, and motivated to succeed.
Informal career development is more flexible than any other type of career development. It does not have a fixed plan or schedule, but people who follow this type use their experiences to hone their skills and explore new opportunities.
This type of career development is totally employee-led, meaning the initiative comes from the individual rather than the organization or employer. It involves self-motivation, work outside of one’s job title, and networking opportunities outside of the office walls.
Informal career development can include anything from attending industry conferences, taking online courses, or participating in nonprofit organizations relevant to an individual’s career aspirations. Because it’s self-motivated, it can be more individualized than formal development plans.
Some employees choose this form of career development plan because they want to take control of their professional future. Informal career development is suitable for those who want to gain new skills in a specific area or who want to widen their knowledge and expertise outside of their fields. It is highly recommended for freelancers, remote workers, and entrepreneurs, as they are likely to have more flexibility with their time.
One of the significant advantages of informal career development is the personal touch it provides to your professional growth. Learning outside of your industry and network is a healthy way of developing skills and can lead to more job satisfaction. Informal development can also lead to wider opportunities and can sometimes be beneficial for people who do not have a clear direction.
However, informal career development does require people to have a robust skill set and to be able to take critical feedback. Because it’s self-led, it’s important to have goals, to continually learn, and to be proactive about seeking out opportunities. Once business professionals actively start pursuing informal career development, they may well find networks that lead to positions they would never have known about.
Informal career development can be a very informal process with no set structure, but there are a variety of opportunities out there for those interested in pursuing it. Professional organizations in many fields can be a great place to network, and attending conferences and lectures can help professionals stay up-to-date with the latest trends in their industries. Informal job shadowing and mentoring can teach you how to take a different perspective on your development. Even volunteer work can add to your portfolio and equip you with practical skills that you may not necessarily acquire in a formal work setting.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to informal career development is that the effort put in has to come from you. You have to be invested in your own development, and you have to be proactive in seeking out unusual learning opportunities. If you’re motivated enough to do so, then you can not only achieve your academic goals but also open the doors to unexpected and exciting new career possibilities.
2. Cyclical Career Development
Cyclical career development is all about understanding that careers are not just a straight line towards success. Instead, it is a journey that has its ups and downs, twists, and turns. This type of career development allows you to be flexible and adapt to changes in the industry. In essence, it helps prepare you for the long haul of your career life, ensuring that you become an all-rounded employee that can survive any economic or workplace changes.
Firstly, cyclical career development helps employees to navigate their way through a career turmoil, for instance, following the loss of a job position, surviving an economic recession, or dealing with workplace burnout. Employees who embrace this kind of career development understand that such setbacks are a normal part of the career process and as such take it in stride and come out rejuvenated and revitalized. By taking a proactive approach and arming themselves with continuous learning, networking, and industry engagement, cyclical career development helps one stay relevant in whatever career they choose to undertake.
Secondly, cyclical career development helps employees to not only re-invent themselves but also provides them with a chance to pursue their lifelong ambitions and passions. As an individual’s interests and skill sets evolve over time, so does the need to pursue similar ambitions in the workplace. Employees understand that in today’s world, the chances of pursuing a career for a lifetime are low. As a result, employees need to adopt a mindset that knows how to navigate the highs and lows brought about by ever-changing job roles and organizational structures. With cyclical career development, employees are equipped with the skills to evaluate their past performance, take stock of their present circumstances, and plan for the future.
Lastly, cyclical career development enables employees to map out their career trajectory and identify areas that need development. A well-designed professional cyclical development process includes honest self-reflection, performance appraisals, regular feedback, and the setting of realistic goals. With these tools, employees can pinpoint skill gaps, achieve career clarity, plan their career path effectively, and close competency gaps to remain relevant. By being proactive and undertaking continuous learning, employees can achieve their career goals, even during economic downturns or when there is a demand for a completely different set of skills.
Cyclical career development ensures that employees have a proper work-life balance. Understanding that career success is not all about long hours and progress up the management ladder is critical in achieving sustainability in the workplace. By embracing this type of career development, employees can build a robust and sustainable career path that resonates with their values, goals, and work-life balance. As such, cyclical career development helps employees to seize the day and make the most of every opportunity that comes their way.
3. Stalled Career Development
Career development is a journey, and in this journey, there could be obstacles that can hinder one’s progress. Stalled career development is one of these obstacles for professionals and employees. Stalled career development is a situation in which a person becomes stuck at one level, with lack of growth and progress. It can be due to many factors such as lack of skills, limited opportunities, and/or work environment.
Four types of stalled career development
Stalled career development can occur in many ways, and here are the four most common types:
Plateaued refers to someone who has stagnated in their current job. They have stopped growing, and there is no sense of accomplishment or progress anymore. It’s not always a bad thing, as some people are content in their current role, but it can hold someone back if they have aspirations to move up in their company.
The danger of being stuck in a plateaued career is that it can lead to complacency, boredom, and ultimately hinder your chances of progressing further up the career ladder. It is important to identify and acknowledge that you have plateaued, so you can take proactive steps to reignite your passion and develop your skills to move forward again.
Underutilized means that you have skills and talents, but your current role doesn’t allow you to utilize them to their full potential. It can be frustrating when you know that you are capable of doing more, but you are not given the opportunity to do so.
There can be many reasons for being underutilized, including a lack of trust from management, a company-wide restructure, or specific policies that limit your role. If you find yourself in this position, it is essential to communicate with your manager, showcase your skills, and volunteer for projects that will allow you to display your talents and develop new ones.
Burnout happens when you experience prolonged stress, leading to emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a reduced sense of accomplishment. It can result from an increased workload, demanding bosses, or toxic company culture, and it can cause you to feel like you have hit a wall.
The risk of burnout is that it can lead to an inability to cope with tasks and loss of motivation, potentially leading to job dissatisfaction or even leaving the profession altogether. To avoid burnout, it is crucial to take regular breaks, ensure you have a good work-life balance, and establish healthy stress-coping mechanisms.
– Disappointing Progression
Disappointing progression is when you feel like you are constantly taking small steps forward and taking many back, with no clear path to success. It can be demotivating to have a list of goals and not see them being met, leaving you feeling discouraged and frustrated.
In this situation, it is important to review your goals and assess why you are failing to achieve them. Are your expectations realistic, are you getting the support you need, and are you taking on too much? Reflecting and seeking feedback can help identify areas for improvement and opportunities to develop new skills that will help you achieve your career goals.
Stalled career development can feel demotivating, but it’s essential to remember that it’s not permanent. You can take proactive steps to reignite your passion and develop your skills – speak to a career coach, take on new projects, enroll in a training program, seek feedback, and ask for opportunities.
4. Self-Directed Career Development
Self-directed career development simply means taking control over one’s own career progression. This type of career development assumes that individuals are responsible for identifying their own interests, strengths, and areas for improvement in order to achieve their professional goals. In this section, we will dive into five ways to pursue self-directed career development.
– Conduct Self-Assessments
The first step in self-directed career development is conducting regular self-assessments. Assessing yourself frequently helps you understand your preferences, skills, and interests. Self-assessments allow you to align your career goals with your hobbies, strengths, values, and personality traits. In addition, self-assessments provide insight into your weaknesses, which can guide you to develop more targeted development plans to improve your professional competencies.
– Research Career Paths and Opportunities
Another important step in self-directed career development is researching various career paths and opportunities. Research can be as simple as attending a career fair, talking to professionals in your field, perusing job listings, or scouting the internet for career development blogs, forums, or job postings. Additionally, you can take online courses, attend professional conferences and workshops, and participate in career-oriented virtual communities. Furthermore, searching for mentoring programs, job-shadowing opportunities, and volunteering can also help you broaden your knowledge of different career paths and opportunities.
– Develop a Personal Brand
Third, developing a personal brand is crucial for self-directed career development. Your personal brand is an extension of your professional identity. Developing a strong personal brand can help you build credibility, establish yourself as a thought leader, and gain visibility in your industry. Start by developing a personal website that showcases your credentials, work samples, and career accomplishments. You can also leverage social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram to promote your personal brand.
– Build a Professional Network
Fourth, building a professional network is instrumental for self-directed career development. Networking is a great way to meet new people and gain career-related insights, advice, and opportunities. Attend industry events, join professional associations, and connect with alumni from your university. Additionally, reach out to individuals who you admire in your field via email or LinkedIn. Lastly, be sure to give back to your network by offering your own insights, experience, and connections to others.
– Take on Stretch Assignments
Last but certainly not least, taking on stretch assignments can be an important strategy for self-directed career development. In fact, stretching yourself by taking on assignments that are slightly outside of your comfort zone or experience level can help you build new skills, expand your knowledge, and increase your visibility in your organization. This type of career development can often lead to new opportunities for growth and advancement.
In conclusion, taking a self-directed approach to career development can be vital for individuals seeking to grow and expand their professional skillset and reputation. By conducting self-assessments, researching career paths and opportunities, developing a personal brand, building a professional network, and taking on stretch assignments, individuals can design their own journey towards a fulfilling and successful career.