By Dale Rolfe Career Want a promotion? Take charge of your own development 8 Sep 2015 It’s normal to feel that you need to rely on others for your professional growth – whether it’s being offered challenging projects, getting face to face time with a senior manager or receiving funding for external training. When we don’t have these opportunities, it can be easy to shelve your development. CPD allows you to expand your experience and skill set and deepen your personal satisfaction at work. We talked to AAT’s Human Resources Manager Dawn Pike about how to take charge of your own career development. If I’m doing a good job every day why do I need to do ‘extra’? This will vary depending on individual goals and aspirations. However it is often the case that people enjoy variety and the challenge that development opportunities bring. In addition it helps to keep fresh what otherwise may become routine and monotonous. So although there is no need to ‘do extra’ it can lead to more exciting tasks and personal satisfaction. How does development raise my profile in my organisation? Proactive individuals are more likely to seek opportunities which will stretch and challenge them. This means more exposure to increasingly complex and wider situations. What this demonstrates is an ability to act up to the next level and provides the individual with a range of examples to use in a selection process. In addition this enthusiasm to develop will not go unnoticed by colleagues and could be beneficial if a promotion opportunity were to arise. How do I participate in development opportunities outside what my HR department offers? You may wish to research some training providers for short-term courses or perhaps consider a qualification. However development is not just about attending training. Speak to your manager and colleagues to find out what tasks and projects are happening outside of your own role. There may be an opportunity for you to assist with something which will build upon your current skill set. You could also shadow another team or put time aside on a weekly basis to read about developments and trends in your industry. Take some time to study your organisation and see if there are opportunities for improvement or gaps in services and a pitch solution you can lead on to your manager. What are the transferable skills that I should develop that will help me in any job? When thinking about transferable skills it should be remembered that the extent to which they are required will very much depend on the nature of the role and type of organisation. However the commonly found fundamental skills across most roles are good communication skills (verbal and written), organisation and prioritisation, working to deadlines, problem solving, making recommendations/decisions, team working and motivating others. How can I ask someone to be a mentor? It can be really helpful to work with a mentor who is at a more senior level in the area that you wish to develop. They will be able to share personal experiences and assist with identifying milestones on your career pathway. When seeking a mentor think about the kind of person that they are. For example do you feel inspired and motivated when speaking with them? You’ll find that most people with these attributes will be pleased to help, especially where you’ve received support from them in the past. My HR department/boss/mentor is really busy – what approach should I use to ask them for help? Don’t forget that a key part of their role is to ensure that you are being provided with guidance to develop and grow. It is important to keep an open and regular dialogue so that your goals stay on track. Raise this at a time where you are both away from your desks and interruptions, such as a one to one meeting. You may wish to start by recognising that they are busy and asking whether you can assist with any tasks. By approaching it in this way not only will you build on your own skills, but will also free up some of their time. I run my own business – how do I look after my own development? You should invest in your own development as you would if you had an employee. Budget time, and if possible money, to your development goals. Your development could include staying abreast of current trends with an hour of reading each week, attending networking events, watching tutorial videos on YouTube videos or reaching out to companies and individuals who inspire you and asking to meet up. Take inspiration from companies outside your industry and note innovative and best practice approaches to processes, training, marketing and communication. Dale Rolfe is AAT's Content Manager.