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Do-It-Yourself Career Development

Do-It-Yourself Career Development

Barbara Demarest | Articles Base

With corporate downsizing at an all-time high and entrepreneurs and small businesses on the rise, many of us are finding we have to “do-it-yourself” in some areas where we might once have had help.

Specifically, we have to actively manage our own careers including keeping an eye on our own training and development. Whether you were one of the “lucky” ones still working at Shrinking, Inc., or one of those sent away to find greener pastures, you need to be much more “hands-on” about your own career. You can’t just coast and boast any more. From high-potentials to CEOs and from sole proprietors to small business mavens, keeping your skills, experiences and perspectives up to date is necessary to marketplace survival.

People learn from key experiences, from key relationships and from active engagement with new information through classes, workshops, books or other media. Let’s take a look at each of these learning opportunities.

Key Experiences – you are on your own either because your company who once had career ladders and high-potential programs is now furloughing people and cutting retirement benefits or you’re now a sole proprietor or always was a small business person. What can you do to get the important experiences you need to keep yourself, your products, and your business in the game?

1. Make your volunteer time work for you. Take a look at where you are already volunteering. Do you do things to support your kids’ activities? Do you volunteer at a soup kitchen or help with Special Olympics? See if there is a way to gain some experiences that fit your career needs. For example, maybe you’ve seen that all the new hires at your company seem to have computer skills that you don’t have. They talk about social media and websites and you can’t keep up. So try to learn a little something about websites for your child’s hockey team. Set up a Google site or a Yahoo! Group to organize the team’s schedule, announcements, and contact information. It’s a pretty safe place to learn – low risk and it doesn’t cost as much as going to a class on corporate communication.

2. Evaluate opportunities for learning potential. Maybe the assignment you just received from your boss is the same work you’ve been doing for the last several years. Is there anything about the assignment that could stretch you or teach you something new? Does this assignment offer you the chance to teach someone else what you know and allow you to develop mentoring and delegating skills? Take the time to look at what you are already doing and see if there is a way to add a little bit of just-in-time learning to the mix.

3. Write it down. The time may come, and let’s hope it is your own decision and not a surprise to you, that you will have to find another job. By writing down your experiences as you have them and updating your resume, your LinkedIn profile or any other documentations of your work history, as you are doing things, you will be in a position to just edit and improve and not have to create your work success sheet from memory. Writing down your accomplishments and experiences also provides a moment of reflection. Pat yourself on the back and take note that you finished a project, sold a contract, wrote a paper, helped a person or whatever reflects the experience for you.