Five Tips to Make the Most of National Career Development Month

Economic turbulence during the past year has shifted the way people are viewing their careers. Many have stopped thinking about “professional development” and have adapted a “job survival” mindset instead. As a result, some have put their goals for a promotion, pay raise and the pursuit of their dream job on hold until after the economy recovers.

What many of these people fail to realize is that career advancement is still important and attainable, even when the job market seems to be shrinking, says Katy Piotrowski, author of “The Career Coward’s Guide to Career Advancement.”

“Most of us have a tendency to get ‘comfortable’ in our positions, not taking action until something happens, like the loss of a job, or a promotion opportunity. Yet if we get in the habit of taking even small career development steps, more and better career opportunities come our way, plus we create more security in our jobs,” she explains.

November is National Career Development Month and the perfect time for you to get your career goals back on track. To make the most out of National Career Development Month and continue building momentum beyond it, Piotrowski encourages you to:

  • Join and participate in some kind of association, whether it’s a professional group tied to your career or a local civic organization, such as Rotary. These get-togethers force you to meet new people while learning new things. You can’t help but grow in your career under those circumstances.
  • Make it a priority to attend your profession’s annual conference. Being exposed to the best-of-the-best in your field makes it worth the time and expense. From learning about techniques to improve your professional prowess, to exchanging ideas with like-minded colleagues, national conferences can light a fire under your career in a multitude of ways.
  • Capitalize on your gifts through activities of your own making. Excel in writing, but it isn’t part of your job description? Compose articles that highlight your expertise and submit them to Web sites, blogs and publications that can benefit from your know-how. Possess strengths in planning? Put together an improvement proposal for some aspect of your workplace, and present it for consideration. Even if your ideas aren’t always accepted, you’ll still be tapping into your talents.
  • Challenge yourself to create a list of 20 professional successes you’ve accomplished in the past year. Scan your calendar, status reports and computer files to remind yourself of what you’ve faced and handled. Then jot down a few key pieces of data about each success — timeframe completed, money saved, customers impacted. Voila! You’ve just created a success database — a valuable tool for building resumes, preparing for job interviews and reminding yourself that your career is making a difference.
  • Continue to reposition your “golden ring.” A year or two ago, you may have had a goal in mind for your career. If you’ve already reached it, set a new goal. Spend some time reflecting on what will inspire and jazz you career-wise in the future, then jot down a new set of goals to keep you moving forward.

Piotrowski was recently named Outstanding Career Practitioner of the Year by the National Career Development Association and has been a career coach in private practice in Fort Collins, Colorado, for more than 15 years.


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