How to ask for additional career development (successfully) in 5 easy steps

Published: 12 Jan 2016

If your New Year’s resolution is to develop in your career it can be immensely frustrating if you're not getting the chance to learn new skills. Now is the time to discuss this with your manager. Use the following five simple steps to make sure the conversation with your manager is a success and you receive the professional development you need to reach your career goals.

Step 1. Ask for a meeting

Career development can't be a subject discussed as a passing conversation. You need to put a reasonable amount of time aside if you want to have a constructive discussion, so ask your manager if you can book a meeting. It shows your manager straight away that you are taking the discussion seriously.

Step 2. Give yourself time to prepare

Make sure you know what you want to get out of the conversation. With some preparation you can be sure the meeting doesn't drift away from your professional development plan and that you'll have a genuinely constructive talk. Consider your career goals and interests when deciding which direction you want your career to take. Also, consider your strengths and weaknesses alongside this. These may have been identified during your last performance review, but if not, take the time to identify them as they will provide a starting point for your career development plan. If your manager does not know that you are keen on certain areas, they might not think to flag them up to you. But by being proactive in saying what you are interested in, you'll almost certainly be considered when suitable opportunities become available.

Step 3. Ask your manager for ideas

While you may be very clear about what you want, there may be other options you hadn’t considered. So make sure you ask your manager what they think would be a good direction to help develop your career. Your Manager will also be well positioned to provide insights into what attributes, experiences and skills you will need to develop in order to progress in your career. Therefore, they are ideally placed to help you create an action plan for additional career development for you to reach your desired goal.

Step 4. Avoid being confrontational

Keep your comments and thoughts positive and constructive. It’s important that you are both in the right frame of mind to consider the various options on offer. Conducting yourself in this way will show your manager that you are enthusiastic rather than resentful and self-motivated.

Step 5. Act independently

Your manager isn’t the only person who will determine your career progression. You can take matters into your own hands by signing up for online education to develop your career, by reading industry-related publications, participating in online debates, attending events and conferences, and building your own professional network. Including the initiatives you are participating in on your own accord in the discussion will help to show your manager that you take your career and professional development seriously.

Ultimately, the key to asking for additional career development successfully lies in you being proactive and positive, as well as ensuring your manager understands your drive to develop your career and your career goals. And if you can’t achieve the career progression you want, perhaps it’s time to consider if your career needs a change of gear.

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