April 13, 2018

How to develop your career without your company’s help

No-one cares as much about your career as you do. While there are more supportive managers and less supportive managers out there, ultimately it's your responsibility to develop your own career.

This is especially the case as average job tenure is so much lower than it once was. Stats NZ reports the average job tenure in New Zealand is just four years. As a result, many companies may be less inclined to pay for training and other development opportunities if they believe you aren't going to stick around for long. 

It is of course hugely frustrating when it feels like your company doesn't care about your career development. However, this shouldn't mean you drop your aspirations altogether. There are plenty of things you can do to take control of your own career:

Job tenure is declining - in New Zealand it's just four years. Average job tenure in New Zealand is just four years.

1) Identify your blind spots

Write down around 10 skills that you deem highly necessary to be successful in your job or company, and rank yourself on each. Get the thoughts of others you work with to get the 10 skills you would like to identify to be successful. Take advantage if your latest performance appraisal to ask questions to help identify these as well.

There are plenty of ways you can upskill on areas that you aren't as competent in, even without the help of your company. For example, online platforms such as Lynda.com have training courses on a huge variety of areas. The other benefit of doing this is that it will lift your profile and your network of contacts in the organisation and you subsequently will be seen as being a proactive relative to those around you.

Start volunteering for projects that will broaden your skillset, particularly cross-departmental initiatives. These will involve meeting people from other areas of your company and give you a better idea of how your role fits in with the business' wider operations and aims. 

2) Seek feedback from below as well as above

Even if there's no formal mechanism for receiving feedback, it's important you take the initiative. The obvious thing to do is ask managers and those in higher places, but it's equally essential that you ask for feedback on your performance from those lower down in your company's hierarchy. This is especially the case if you are looking to move into an executive role – you need to know how to lead, and that means asking the people who you'll one day be managing exactly how you can improve. 

It's important you seek feedback from both managers and the team you lead.It's important you seek feedback from both managers and the team you lead.

3) Become an essential subject expert

Are there any industry areas or new technologies that you believe may be highly disruptive or crucial to your business in the next few years? Things like industry updates, or technologies such as the Internet of Things, AI or the cloud? 

If so, it's a good idea to research these in depth until you are a subject matter expert. This will make you indispensable to your company when the time comes for these technologies or industry trends to really take hold.

Once you have become an expert, don't just keep that knowledge to yourself. Start leading seminars at work that help your team to understand the new area, and write LinkedIn articles where other people in your company will be able to see your newly developed insights. 

4) Help others with their development

Although many managers may not have the time to develop others' careers, this doesn't mean they won't appreciate other people doing it. If you start helping your own team to upskill and become a mentor, it may be the last bit of encouragement your boss needs to decide you're ready for the next promotion – whether that's to managerial, executive level or beyond. 

"Be captain of your own ship"

Andrew Watson, Director at JacksonStone & Partners, summed up taking control of your own career perfectly:

"When it comes to your career you need to be proactively in control of what you can influence. One way to think of it is that you are the captain of your own one- person ship. The very first thing you need for your successful voyage is a point on the horizon to aim for. To make any headway in your career path it is essential to know where you would like to go, even though this may change from time to time." 

"If you get a convenient breeze along the way be appreciative but if not make the necessary changes required to make the best headway given the circumstances. In many situations the course of your career maybe influenced by the career motivation of others around you. Sometimes this can help you get to where you want to quicker and other times not. Whatever the influence reset your course to what is best for you."

Are you ready to take your career to the next level? The executive recruitment specialists at JacksonStone & Partners can help. Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.