What Is Career Development?

By Sky Ariella
Oct. 18, 2022
Articles In Life At Work Guide

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A person’s career is rarely a single goal but rather a series of steps that lead down a path. First, an individual must analyze the things that they enjoy and are good at to decide what profession they want to pursue.

Then, they need to develop their skills in this industry by going to school and getting hired for their early professional positions. Finally, they must continue to advance in their career and work to reach their ultimate professional objectives.

This long-winded and slightly intimidating process is called career development.

Key Takeaways:

  • Career development is the process by which a professional blossoms their job into a fulfilling career.

  • Things that could influence someone career development include education, financial resources, and age.

  • Creating a timeline for your goals and writing down your career objectives can help you figure out a plan for your career development.

What Is Career Development?

What Is Career Development and How Does It Work?

Career development is the process by which a professional blossoms their job into a fulfilling career. It involves a lot of introspection and effort to figure out a job you love and head down the path of career development. The whole career development process can take a person their entire life because it isn’t just getting a job. It’s building a profession.

Understanding the groundwork of career development helps professionals analyze where they are in this endeavor and where they intend to go in the coming years. Committing to career development means taking on a pursuit of improvement in yourself and your skills.

Most people yearn for career development because it enhances their strengths, and in turn, their life satisfaction and well-being. It also brings them to new heights in their career:

Factors That Influence Your Career Development

Several factors can influence an individual’s career development. These factors include the following:

  1. Personality. An employee’s personality can greatly impact their career development or lack of it. This is because personality traits like conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness can influence the career that a person chooses and how they approach their development.

    The motivation and dedication a person has ingrained in their character can also impact their career path.

    For example, take an employee who demonstrates high levels of conscientiousness and extraversion. This personality type would allow them to be professional at work while still developing positive interpersonal relationships with co-workers and supervisors.

    This could be an asset in their professional life and improve their career development.

  2. Education. An individual’s educational path can also determine their eventual career development. This is because many occupations require a certain level of education to be qualified for the role. While this is sometimes a certification program of a few months, some careers require nearly a decade of higher education.

    It can be extremely difficult to get some jobs without the required education, which makes an obvious impact on an individual’s career development.

  3. Financial resources. It can be pricey to pursue some career paths. Since it can be difficult to get some jobs without a required education, you’ll have to pay for this education. If you don’t have the finances to do go to school, that career might not be an option anymore.

    Having financial limitations can also affect your means to get to a job everyday if you cannot afford to buy a car. This can also affect your ability to buy professional clothes for interviews as well.

  4. Financial obligations. This can include things such as rent, a mortgage, and child care costs. Needing to set aside large sums of money to pay off these things can affect your ability to change careers or continue on your current career path.

    Student loans are also one of the biggest things that hinder career development.

  5. Job performance. After getting through school and finally being offered a paid position, more factors could influence a candidate’s career development. Mainly their performance on the job. From the moment that an employee has their first day of work, they’re being evaluated to determine their progress over time.

    An employee’s improvement or pleasing performance can inherently further their career development because it opens up new opportunities. A supervisor notices that a particular employee shows initiative and leadership skills and puts them in charge of managing a team, thereby getting them to the next bar of their career ladder.

    Alternatively, an employee whose performance has been stagnant or even average can keep them locked in the current position of their career development.

  6. The company’s situation. Sometimes, an individual’s career development can be impacted by factors that have nothing to do with them. A common example of this is their company’s situation.

    When a company is thriving in its industry, its employees have a better chance of furthering their career development. However, a company experiencing turmoil will be less focused on providing its employees with more opportunities to advance their careers.

  7. Age. Age can be a big factor in career development. If you are too young or too old, you may feel like you can’t pursue a certain career. Try not t focus on your age and try to focus on your ability’s and your motivations.

  8. Family obligations. Career development can stall if you have to stay home to take care of children or sick family members. Family members may also be the reason that you can’t take the position across the country. Considering childcare or live in care can help solve some of the family obligations.

7 Tips for Improving Your Career Development

The concept of career development is often something that’s been lingering in the back of a person’s mind. Once this procedure is put into words, most people want to do everything in their power to get the ball rolling on improving their career development. If that sounds like you, read on through the following seven tips for furthering your career development.

  1. Develop a timeline with milestones for your goals. While goals are fun to loosely imagine in some alternative universe that is the future, you need to take action if you ever want them to transfer over to reality.

    A great way to start focusing on your long-term career objectives is by developing a realistic timeline for them with milestones.

    Saying that you want to be the CEO of a company one day is great, but it’s very easy for this to constantly loom in the background without progress if you don’t have a plan.

    Strategize your next ten years and how you plan to tackle them productively. Set a schedule with stops along the way for you to meet. This makes short-term and long-term goals more real and assists in career growth.

  2. Take advantage of company programs. The company that you currently work for can be a major asset to your career development. Many organizations have various programs in place to foster growth in their employees.

    After all, it’s beneficial for a company to contribute to its employee’s growth because it strengthens its workforce. Do some investigating to find out what opportunities your company offers to enhance your career development.

  3. Keep learning about your industry. A big part of a person’s career development is the constant evolution of learning. Developing your career involves getting better at your work. That comes from increasing your skills.

    Before someone can tell you that you need to learn something, get out there and keep broadening your knowledge of the industry. The better you are at your job, the more smoothly you’ll transition into your further career development.

  4. Become an employee that your company cannot afford to lose. Another way to ensure upward mobility at your company is to become an employee that your employer cannot afford to lose.

    This means that you’re uniquely useful in a variety of ways. Becoming this type of indispensable employee could require sharpening your skills in other areas that are useful.

    For example, if you work as a graphic designer, you could hone in on creative skills in other areas, like coding. Or, if you work in finance, you could also work on your administrative abilities. Ensure that you’re a name that comes to mind when your supervisors think about their most valuable team members.

  5. Focus on your interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills can greatly influence your career development. The way that co-workers and supervisors perceive you will either award you with opportunities or keep you stagnant in your career. This perception is often shaped by your interpersonal skills in the workplace.

    If you’re having a difficult time progressing further in your career, but you’re not sure why it may be because your interpersonal skills are lacking. Improving your abilities in this area could work wonders for your professional development.

  6. Build a positive reputation in your industry. Word gets around when someone is professional and capable in their professional position.

    Having a positive reputation within your industry is crucial because this impression could lead to you getting your next incredible professional opportunity. On the other hand, having a less than sparkling reputation can quickly ruin your chances of getting a position in the future.

    Cultivating positive relationships with other professionals in your field comes down to networking. Start talking to people about industry-related news, commonalities, or anything professionally appropriate to get them to remember you in a favorable light.

    You may be surprised to find how much a positive industry reputation can speed up your career development.

  7. Write down your career objectives. Many people think that simply keeping their goals in the back of their minds will be enough to make sure that they get done. This strategy rarely ends up with the objectives being accomplished, even for people who are good at mental planning.

    Keeping your plans for career development locked away in your head makes it easier for these ideas to float away or be replaced with something else more urgent. Writing them down makes it a priority.

    To hold yourself accountable for your long-term objectives and career development, write down everything you’re going to do. Make it clear, be realistic about what’s achievable, and have a set schedule to accomplish your goals. Putting your career development goals down on paper makes them set in stone and crucial to complete.

    Return to the place where you’ve written down these detailed personal development goals and career objectives every so often to see how far along you’ve come in the journey and get an extra spark of motivation to keep going.

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Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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