Landing a good job, even one that meets your ideals, is less an end in itself than one stage in a larger drama of growth – your growth.
In many cases, the job itself will provide the challenges and resources necessary for expanding your skillset and adding depth to your leadership abilities. But regardless of the quality of the job, whether it facilitates your development or not, continued growth depends largely on your own initiative.
Ultimately, growing on the job requires two things: identifying the areas in which you would like to grow, and establishing goals for your progress.
Assessing needs and goals
Performance reviews can help you identify areas in which you need to improve or acquire new skills. The fundamentals of these reviews, and their variety, should be familiar to any jobseeker or employee.
The key is to not assess yourself in isolation, but with the input of managers and/or peers who can give you external perspectives. Most of us have a limited ability to see our strengths and/or weaknesses, or identify areas for improvement, objectively.
Tip: Get feedback from people who have skills you admire, and can help you envision a path toward their level of achievement.
After you have gathered your assessments together and arrived at an understanding of your growth needs, you have important choices to make regarding your goals. Typically, these are:
- Improved performance in specific skill areas;
- General expansion of skills, including the development of new ones, which can contribute to your long-term career interests.
Tip: Go beyond establishing goals as a destination; set tangible markers for yourself so that you can see and measure your progress along the way.
Like growth itself, assessment is not static, but a dynamic process that continues throughout a career. It's important to make the examination of skills, needs and goals a recurring and routine process.
And keep in mind that "your growth" is not a matter that's yours alone. Managers can not only help you assess your abilities, but find opportunities – through projects, assignments, and new roles – to expand your skillset, contribute more to your company, and plot a more personally and professionally rewarding career path.