Uncover Your True Self: The Surprising Importance of Career Development for Your Success

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Shirin Khamisa

By Shirin Khamisa, Founder & Practice Leader 
last updated September 13, 2023

Career development is the process of acquiring new skills and experiences that enable individuals to grow professionally and achieve their career aspirations. Unfortunately, many people overlook the importance of career development, leading to stagnation in their careers and dissatisfaction with their jobs.

Having a career roadmap can set you on the path to career success, as it provides a clear direction and a goal to work towards. Without a plan, it’s common to drift aimlessly, feeling stuck in your current position.

Furthermore, with rapid advancements in technology and automation, the job market is evolving at an unprecedented pace. Employers are seeking individuals who can adapt to these changes and have the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in a constantly changing work environment. Investing time and resources in career development can demonstrate to potential employers that you’re committed to growing professionally and staying ahead of the curve.

Career development encompasses a wide range of activities such as formal training, experiential learning, and professional networking. These activities can help you to acquire new skills, build a professional network, and gain a better understanding of your field. By sharpening your skills, you can become a valuable asset to your organization and position yourself for career advancement.

In summary, career development is often overlooked, but it’s an essential component of achieving success in your chosen field. Investing time and resources in career development can provide you with the skills, experiences, and connections necessary to stay ahead of the curve, adapt to changes in the job market, and achieve your career aspirations.

The beginnings of career development

The term “career development” has become a common phrase used in the field of work and employment. It refers to the process of managing one’s professional life, including setting and achieving career goals, exploring career options, enhancing skills, and making strategic decisions to improve one’s career prospects.

The concept of career development dates back to the early 1900s when vocational guidance became a popular practice. The term itself, though, wasn’t widely used until the mid-1950s when the focus shifted towards long-term career planning and development. In recent years, the term has gained even more attention with the rise of the gig economy and the need for individuals to have a more independent approach to their career paths.

Despite its evolution over time, the core principles of career development remain the same – it is about taking active steps to shape your professional trajectory, whether that be through education, acquiring new skills, networking, or exploring new opportunities. By doing so, individuals have the ability to expand their knowledge, grow their expertise, and ultimately achieve their desired career aspirations.

What is career development and why do we need it?

Career development is the process of managing one’s career over time through various actions that enhance an individual’s skills, experience, and knowledge. It is the process of exploring career options, setting goals, acquiring the necessary skills, and creating opportunities that can lead to career progression. Career development plays an important role in reaching your goals and leading a fulfilling life.

A fulfilling career is one that aligns with your interests, values, and strengths. Career development can help you identify and explore various career choices, allowing you to make informed decisions about your career path. It can help you find the right job that aligns with your skills and interests, increasing your job satisfaction and overall quality of life.

In fact, research shows that 76% of employees are looking to expand their careers, making career development an essential aspect of professional growth. Career exploration and development can help individuals attain new skills and gain experience in their field, leading to promotions, salary increases, and job security.

Career development can also enable individuals to create new opportunities for themselves, increasing their chances of career progression. By actively seeking out new opportunities, individuals can expand their professional network and gain valuable connections with employers or other professionals in their field.

Another benefit of career development is the sense of purpose and meaning that it provides. When individuals actively take steps towards their career goals, they gain a greater sense of control over their lives, increasing their sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

Overall, career development is essential in achieving career goals and leading a fulfilling life. By exploring career choices and taking action towards career progression, individuals can create opportunities for themselves and attain new skills and experiences that can benefit them both professionally and personally.

Follow Our Guide: 5 Essential Components

Career development is a complex process that requires a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there. There are several key components that are essential to building a successful career. Below we will discuss the five essential components of career development. Follow the links to learn more about any of these critical elements.

1. Setting Long-term & Short-term Career Goals

The first essential component is to determine your long-term and short-term career goals. Long-term goals refer to what you want to achieve over an extended period, such as 10-20 years, while short-term goals are what you want to accomplish within the next couple of years. It is crucial to have a balance of both long-term and short-term goals to have a clear path toward accomplishing your career objectives.

2. Be SMART About These Goals

Goal setting is essential to career development, and it is the process of identifying specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. Setting SMART goals helps you know what you want to achieve and the actions you need to take to reach your goals. It is essential to set realistic and achievable goals that align with your interests, skills, and values.

3. Career Path Exploration

The third essential component of career development is career path exploration. It involves researching different career options, understanding the required skills and qualifications, and identifying the potential job prospects. This process helps you gain insight into the various career options and determine the best path for your desired career.  Read our guide on the topic of career path exploration which gives you 5 great ideas to get your research started.

4. Career Guidance

Career guidance is a critical component of career development, as it provides support and advice to help you navigate your career journey successfully. This guidance can come from mentors, career coaches, industry professionals, or even online resources.

A career guidance coach can help you identify your strengths, interests, and potential barriers, helping you achieve your career goals. Take care to select a career coaching approach that fits your needs, they are not all the same.

Some approaches lean more toward the ‘head’, heavier on assessments and others more toward psychology and discussion.

At Careers by Design, we have found enormous success with our 'Connect Head & Heart' approach which we have found helps our clients uncover their inner wisdom and achieve inner balance allowing decision making to happen in an effortless way.

5. Skill Building & Development

The last but not least essential component of career development is skill development. Employers seek candidates with the necessary skills to excel in their roles. Skill building can involve formal training, experiential learning, or on-the-job training. It is essential to invest in acquiring the necessary skills that align with your career goals.

In conclusion, career development is a journey that requires careful planning, determination, and a clear understanding of the essential components. By focusing on long-term and short-term career goals, setting SMART goals, exploring different career paths, seeking career guidance, and investing in skill development, you can achieve a fulfilling career.

About the Author

Hi there, I am Shirin Khamisa, the founder and Practice Leader of Careers by Design, a career coaching company based in Toronto that provides career counselling, coaching, and training services to individuals and organizations.

With over 20 years of experience in career development, I am a recognized expert in my field, and I have helped thousands of people navigate career transitions, find meaningful work, and achieve their professional goals.

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Shirin Khamisa Founder Careers by Design