Many employees leave their career development up to their employers and wait for the next promotion or raise, but this can easily lead to resentment.  Imagine investing years of hard work into a company waiting for a reward that never arrives … these are years of effort that you are never going to get back.

Even if your company has a career development program, you will go farther if you actively participate in your own development.  Here are 4 tips to keep in mind:

1.  Know your goal.  Do you have short and long term career objectives?  If you don’t know where you are going, you’re leaving it to chance to get there. Write down your goals.  This seems obvious, but most people don’t have this piece of paper to refer to.

2. Measure your progress.  Take your goal sheet out and review it every six months (at a minimum).  This will help you avoid looking back over 5 years and wondering where those years went.

3.  Seek mentors outside of the company.  Inside mentors are great, but sometimes influenced by company culture to the point of not seeing the bigger picture.  An outside mentor can help you see innovative ideas that haven’t been introduced into your workplace, and can also be a strong ally that you can confide in with more freedom.

4.  Determine whether or not the opportunities you seek are offered by your employer.  Once you check off a few short-term goals, you may recognize the next step you want to take is not available where you are employed.  This is an opportunity to either show your employer how your development can benefit them and create the position, or find the opportunity elsewhere.

Action is the key to success!