10 Ways To Enhance Your Personal Development
Written by Courtney Baum for Gwinnett Magazine, featuring Mickey Parsons.
Along with the inevitable resolutions to lose ten pounds, eat more vegetables and be nicer to your sister,this is the year to add a renewed focus on professional development to your personal goals. Advisers and experts alike say the best defense in a tough economy is a well honed focus on your career path. We spoke with Mickey Parsons, Master Certified Coach with Parsons-Associates, and Bob Brusehaber, Gwinnett Technical College's Program Director for Continuing Education and discussed their thoughts on recharging your career in the year ahead.
1. Create opportunities. "Ultimately, career management is about taking charge of your own destiny and being prepared to make the connections and take the actions necessary to open doors and create opportunities." observes Mickey Parsons, whose clients range from mid level managers to CEOs. Focus on being proactive and persuasive both at work by re-educating your boss on your special abilities or new interests and outside of work by getting involved with groups or volunteer organizations that give you opportunities to develop and expand your skill sets.
2. Shine up your strengths. Take time to do a self-evaluation: write down your strengths, values, skills and successes. Understanding your own worth and being able to easily discuss the value your offer can go along way in selling yourself for a new project assignment at work and helping you design a road map for long term career decisions.
3. Stay smart. "Continuing your education gives you the ability to best react to changing markets," according to Bob Brusehaber, of Gwinnett Technical College, "Maintaining your credentials and updating your skill set is essential for continued success." To this end, Gwinnett Tech offers over 700 classes per quarter and they are wide-ranging: from the East Coast's only accredited ground source geothermal heat pump installation training course to the entire Microsoft 07 suite and network plus certification classes.
4. Get even smarter. "Take extra measures to show your commitment. It makes you more marketable and demonstrates the strength of your intention." advises Parsons. If you are interested in switching fields or transitioning to a new job within your company, take the necessary courses and get your education requirements covered in advance. An entire series of leadership and management courses, including Six Sigma, Writing for Business, and Human Resources are included in Gwinnett Tech's course offerings.
5. Stay connected. Professional associations, business groups, volunteer organizations, and Chambers of Commerce are good venues for meeting or reconnecting to people in your field or the field you are interested in pursuing. Virtual groups like Linked In are also routes to reaching out to former colleagues and classmates. "You have to be diligent about keeping in touch," shares Parsons, "Just joining a group or creating a profile won't get you connected."
6. Revisit your resume. "Look over your resume with a critical eye," states Brusehaber, "Sharpen your resume. Make it functional and update it quarterly to reflect accomplishments, education completed and new responsibilities." Current advice suggests keeping resumes to one page or two at the most if you have held more than three jobs or have 15 years or more of professional work experience. Mickey Parsons also recommends Best Résumé's for 100,000+ Executive Jobs by William Montag.
7. Work it at work. Make the most of opportunities within your own workplace to gain more education and training. "So many companies offer continuing education opportunities right within the work place," observes Brusehaber, "Taking full advantage of company sponsored initiatives shows your commitment to the goals and objectives of your company. It says you are worth the investment and it raises your value to your employer."
8. Major in mentors. As you strive to recharge or reinvent your career, find people who are finding success in your area of interest and work to develop contacts. "Look for role models who can provide new reference points and perspective," advises Parsons, "Benchmarking your progress against your new contacts will also serve as motivation and accountability to do whatever it takes to reach your desired goal whether it be acquiring new skills, completing a course, or developing a more optimistic attitude."
9. Spread your skills around. Make yourself a go-to player at work by sharing your skills and knowledge with team members. Take a mentoring role for new members of your staff and share your specialized knowledge and skills on cross functional assignments at work. By becoming a multifaceted, utility player you begin to stand out as an indispensable employee.
10. Explore new roads. After you get a handle on your strengths, skills and interests, begin to try out new activities and professional roles on a small scale before making a commitment to a different career path. "Volunteer, research and conduct informational interviews to gain insights on opportunities that match your interests," suggest Parsons, "Reaching out to others or working with a career coach who holds you accountable can catalyze the career management process and help you move forward in times of transition."