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Enduring Ideas for Business Career Development

older man speaking to junior employees

Some ideas for business career development never go out of style. These enduring ideas last because they work. Hundreds of professionals have used these concepts to propel their careers to new heights, shatter the glass ceiling and enter the executive suite. You can, too.

Tell Your Supervisor

The first thing to do is let your ambitions be known. Some formal review processes at companies call for a career development plan. If that's the case at your company, write down your goals and talk to your supervisor about them. Be sure to tell your supervisor that you're starting a career development plan or taking steps towards enhancing your career. She needs to know you're ambitious!

Business Career Development Ideas that Stand the Test of Time

You can choose just one of these ideas or embark on several as part of an annual self improvement and career development plan. Career development is an ongoing process, and it's the people who routinely hone and refine their skills that get ahead in the business world.

Further Your Formal Education

Although an advanced degree or college degree costs a lot in terms of both time and money, knowledge is an investment that's never wasted. Earning an advanced degree also reinforces the fact that you're serious about your career. Check with your company's human resources department about tuition reimbursement policies, since some companies are willing to offset a portion of an employee's tuition expenses. Typically the employee must prove that the degree is directly relevant to his current job, but it's worth a call to your company's HR department to investigate.

Obtain Certification or Take Non-Credit Courses

Another option is to pursue advanced certification in your chosen field. Certificates require fewer credits and cost less than formal education, but they also demonstrate to your employer that you are serious about your business skills.

Non-credit courses in computer software, business skills, accounting, finance and other topics related to your job are yet another way to obtain more education and enhance your career development opportunities.

Some companies offer in-house training sessions. Always take advantage of these, even if they occur during your personal lunch hour. They can be a useful addition to your career development.

Join and Participate in a Professional Organization

Join and participate in a professional organization or a trade association as part of your career development strategy. Many offer monthly lunch meetings with great guest speakers, industry news and discounted publications. You can also use these organizations to network with others in your chosen field.

Read Books, Journals, Websites and Blogs

For busy working parents, time is at a premium. If you simply don't have time for other career development goals; you can still develop your career by reading and staying current with industry publications, websites and blogs. Read books, journals and magazine articles written by experts in your field. If you take mass transit, use your commuting time to read. Take just a few minutes daily to check the major websites for your career field and profession, catching up on the latest news.

Find a Mentor

Mentors are experienced people at your company who can guide you. Often a mentoring relationship happens by chance, but you can also ask someone to be your mentor. Mentors offer advice, answer questions and often challenge you to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Some companies have formal mentoring opportunities and accept a certain number of employees into mentoring programs yearly. Check with your company's HR department to see if they offer a formal mentoring program.

Say Yes to Challenges and Seek Extra Assignments

If you're hesitant to take on new assignments because you wonder, "What's in it for me?" it's time for a change in attitude.  Team players often end up on the fast track to career development. Seek opportunities to pitch in across departments. Step outside of your comfort zone and take on extra assignments or challenging assignments. Ask always, "How can I help my team? My company?" and then follow through on the answer.

An important part of career development is developing skills. You can't develop new skills if you only use the ones you have now! If you remain locked into your current skill set, you're not growing. Saying "yes" to new and challenging assignments ensures that you're constantly developing and adding new skills.

Career Development Over Time

As you rise through the ranks of your corporation, your career development goals may change. At first your development plan may include taking courses in simple, basic skills such as a course in PowerPoint or Excel. Later, you may find that you'd benefit more by joining a trade association or a group like Toastmasters to improve your public speaking skills. Reassess your goals and plans yearly to make sure you're constantly addressing your current career development strategy.

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Enduring Ideas for Business Career Development