How often have you said to yourself, “I am going to be the CEO one day”? It is human nature to aspire for great professional success. The journey from an entry level job to top management is what career development is all about. Invariably, career development or progression can have different meanings for different individuals. For some it could be progression in learning and their knowledge, while for others, it could be progression in their titles and salary packages. These meanings often depend upon the point where one is in life. For freshers, career development is all about learning new skills and expanding their scope of work. While for those who have been in the role for 10-15 years, leaping into leadership positions looks more like career development.
Often, different career development goals often mean different routes and hacks. However, there are some career development hacks that work for everyone, irrespective of the position, experience or expectation. These career development hacks are a straight route to accelerating your professional journey. Not only will they help you land the next promotion, they can be your yardstick to the top. Let us have a quick look at some of these-
Be Proactive not Reactive
In any organization, there are generally two kinds of people, “Ok, I will do this task” and “Why don’t I give this task a spin”. From a bird’s eye view, both of these individuals come out as responsible and on the right path to professional success. But can you guess which one will make it there first? Well, the latter one. The difference between these two is that the first one is reactive. Put simply, people who are reactive do not decline any work you give them and finish it to the best of their ability. However, they seldom take initiative. They mostly ‘react’ to what a senior asks them. The latter, on the other hand, are more proactive. They take ownership of any new task that comes to the team. You don’t have to necessarily assign a role to them, they take it upon themselves.
This career development hack is what differentiates the good performers from the great ones. The good ones do what they are asked to, the great ones take work upon themselves. This is especially true for the ones who are just starting up. Proactively taking ownership wins you a lot of brownie points that you can encash throughout your professional journey.
Seek Feedback, Not only from Seniors
Constructive feedback constitutes an important element of career development, and for growth in general too. Most professionals do not shy away from feedback that their seniors offer. More often than not, it is very insightful and helps a person perform better. However, what is also true is that most individuals restrict feedback to only seniors. This should not be the case. For holistic career development, one needs to be open to feedback from everyone around and not compartmentalize it on the basis of age and experience. “He is just a freshie, what does he know about my role to give me feedback” that’s a line we hear too often.
As we thrive in the age of reverse mentoring and a workplace welcoming millennials, we need to embrace feedback that comes from all corners. Obviously, it doesn’t mean we pay heed to everything that comes our way. No doubt one needs to be selective in what feedback one reacts too. However, the basis of that selection should not be age or experience, but value and quality.
Net@Work and Outside Too
Networking sessions, meetups and activities all come together to expand one’s pool of resources to boost career development. The rationale here is quite simple. The more quality and connected people you know, the better are your chances of closing deals and getting a new role when you are seeking one. In fact, studies show that 85% positions are filled through networking. To be honest, this is one of the most oft repeated career development hacks and the most effective too. Networking shouldn’t just be seen as something to do with people inside or outside your place of work. It is about forming networks that are meaningful, be it internally or externally.
Since networking has become such an essential part of career development, most organizations these days host events to boost this practice. For instance, at Recro, we regularly host networking meetups. The idea is to bring together able developers and technology enthusiasts to have interesting conversations and build strong bonds.
Seek a Mentor
Ask anyone in senior positions, what role did their mentor play. More often than not, you’ll get the answer, “My mentor helped me navigate my professional and personal challenges and has been an instrumental part of my career development”. And, honest to god, they aren’t even exaggerating. That is the value of having a mentor in one’s life. You may seek a formal mentor or have an informal mentoring relationship. The idea is simple, having someone help you navigate the way from where you are to where you want to be. Unless a manager or a boss, your mentor will not tell you how to get from A to B. rather, he/ she will help you identify all the possible routes and equip you to choose the best one.
That is the reason most millennials today are seeking mentors over managers. They see the hidden potential that a mentoring relationship is able to unveil. In fact, 71% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs. Additionally, mentees are five times more likely to receive promotions than the ones who are not a part of mentoring programs. The impact of mentoring on one’s career development is quite evident with these statistics, right?
Never say Never
All of us have come across this phrase, ‘Never say Never’, on the motivational posts of our instagram feed. We generally pass by it, thinking another jargon phrase. However, when it comes to climbing up your career ladder, this is something to live by. Simply put, as you race towards career development, you need to have a positive attitude, willing to take on whatever task you get. There are two downsides to saying No!
On the one hand, refusing work multiple times will reflect poorly on your performance, with everyone around you saying, “Let’s not give that work to him/ her, we know he/ she is going to decline anyway”. It will form a negative image of you. On the other hand, you are in a way robbing yourself of opportunities to grow and learn. Unless you experiment with new roles and tasks, you will become redundant after a certain period of time. Therefore, never saying never will not only keep you in the good books of everyone around you (not to mention good performance reviews), but will also add to your skill set and prompt career development.
Build Conflict Management Strategies
Finally, one of the many career development hacks to live by for anyone top to bottom is building conflict management strategies. Conflict is a part of everyone’s personal and professional life. However, the way you deal with it at your workplace can determine your career progression. On the two extremes of conflict management lie the ones who fear conflict and those who tear it apart. Practically, neither is the right approach to conflict management. The former generally evade any kind of conflict and in the process fail to have a voice in any matter. The latter, on the other hand, often lose their temper and get hot headed, losing opportunities because of their anticipated reactions.
Therefore, for career development, one needs to adopt a middle approach to conflict management. While it is important to put across your point and stand for what you believe in, using subtle words without getting aggressive is the way to go. Allow the other person to put across their point and patiently communicate yours.
Career Development Hacks: Are you there yet?
Career development is an ever evolving process. At no point can you say that your career is now fully developed. There is always scope for betterment. At Recro, we believe that as our employees embark on their journey of career development, we too start growing and evolving. Come join us as we connect the greatest tech minds to the top startups across industries!