Career Development Resources

Whether you already have a job and want to advance your career, or you are looking for work and want to increase your prospects and employability, there are countless career development resources you can take advantage of to help in your efforts.

Many colleges and universities offer abundant career development resources, as do many professional organizations across every industry. Self-guided career development resources are also available in many free and self-guided forms.

The key to finding the career development resources most beneficial for you is to clearly define your career goals. What role do you want to fill for your current employer or a new employer? What is keeping you from that in this moment? Identifying those gaps between your career goals and your current career status, skills and abilities can help you to hone in on those areas you need to develop. Then, achieving development is a simple matter of finding the most appropriate and accessible resources to help you reach that goal.

How to Develop and Achieve Career Goals

In a study of 1,000 office workers in the U.S. 18 years of age and older, 93 percent said they believe goal-setting is an important factor in their performance on the job. To develop achievable career goals, try and make them as definitive and detailed as possible. Instead of a general lofty goal, like a promotion, identify the specific position you would like to be promoted into, the time frame for the promotion to occur and how you plan to earn the promotion. To best determine each of those steps, work backwards, starting from your goal and going step by step in reverse until you reach your current situation.

Each of these steps then becomes its own minor goal to achieve on the trajectory toward your major goal. Make sure to quantify each goal so you can tell when it has been achieved. Make your goals realistic as well so you can succeed with them and not find yourself constantly failing yourself. If a smaller goal still seems too unwieldy to manage, break it down further into even smaller goals. Put each goal in writing so you can remember it and hold yourself accountable. Let your manager know about your goals so he or she can support you in achieving them.

How Additional Training or Certification Can Help Advance a Career

Continuing your education while you are already employed can help to advance your career in a number of ways. By learning new skills or receiving new certifications in areas your company requires, your company can depend on you to perform those tasks rather than hire a new person to handle them. By advancing your knowledge of certain aspects of your current position, you could be given greater responsibility over related projects. By learning skills in such areas as management, leadership, administration and communication, you could even be tagged for a promotion into a leadership role. Continuing your education while employed demonstrates to employers a level of drive, initiative and commitment they look for in their top employees. In all of these cases, additional training or certification can mean a higher pay rate, better benefits and an improved resume, portfolio and references. In addition, continuing education exposes you to a whole new group of other professionals with whom you can network for your own and your company’s betterment.

How to Improve Professional Writing Skills

To improve your writing skills for work, start by assessing your current level of writing skill. Identify your strengths and weaknesses so you know what areas you need to work on. One way to do this is by using the “Readability” feature in Microsoft Word. Results are based on a standardized scale known as the Flesch Reading Ease Scale. Access this by clicking on the File button, select Options, Proofing, then make sure the readability option is checked. You can also find free and paid tools for assessing the quality of your writing. Items to look at besides the obvious spelling and grammar issues are the organization of thoughts and material you present and how well they flow from one to the other. For grammar and spelling, there are many small reference books you can have handy for reference as you write. The trick is to have the right reference books for the issues you repeatedly face and, then, to use them regularly until they become second nature to you.

You can find plenty of online and in-person classes to take and tutors to study with. You can also learn by practicing, starting a blog and keeping it updated regularly. Having a blog forces you to write and write well on a consistent basis, so as not to lose all your readers’ interest. Other tips for improving your professional writing skills include the following:

  • Stopping to consider what you are going to write before you start writing.
  • Rereading your work after you have finished writing it.
  • Read your work aloud.
  • Cutting out unnecessary words, including filler words.
  • Cutting out “big” words when a small word can convey the same meaning and replace all jargon with more familiar, common terms.
  • Writing directly, meaning what you say and saying what you mean rather than using a lot of vagaries, generalizations, implications and exaggerations.

How to Develop Your Technology Skills

Businesses in every industry are depending more on technology to function. The more you are able to offer a company the technological knowledge and skills it needs to succeed, the better you can succeed in the company. You can teach yourself new technology skills from books, videos and online tutorials and webinars. Many resources for learning coding, programming and how to utilize different software programs and platforms can be found offered free by the very creators of those technologies. You can also take a course online or in person from a technical institute or general academic institution.

The Best Free Career Development Resources

Not all career development resources cost you money. Many, in fact, are offered completely free. Among the free career
development resources you can find are:

  • Online webinars, tutorials, videos and self-assessments.
  • Lectures, panel discussions and seminars.
  • Books, magazines and websites.
  • Professional organizations and networking events.

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