If you’re like many professionals today, career development ranks high on your list of what you want out of a job. A 2021 study of more than 15,000 U.S. adults by Gallup and Amazon found:
- 65% of workers believe upskilling opportunities from employers are “very important” when evaluating new jobs
- 48% of American workers would switch to a new job if there were skills training opportunities
- 66% of workers ages 18 to 24 ranked “learning new skills” in their top three job perks when considering job opportunities, ranked only behind health insurance and disability benefits
Many employers are aware of the benefits of workforce development and are taking action to offer better programs to their employees. LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report found 72% of learning and development leaders agree on-the-job training has become a more strategic function at their company.
Workforce development also plays an important role in the economy, so much that the month of September is federally recognized as Workforce Development Month. If you’re interested in having the ability to develop your skills on the job, here’s how to make sure the next position you take includes skills training as part of your career development plan.
1. Ask About it During an Interview
You’ll probably experience this in most job interviews you attend: the, “Do you have any questions for me?” question from the interviewer. This is the perfect opportunity to ask what the employer offers in terms of employee career development. Some questions you might ask are:
- Do employees have the opportunity to learn new skills on the job?
- Do you offer any kinds of on-the-job training? If so, how frequently does training occur?
- If I’m interested in going back to school to learn skills that apply to my job, what kind of support do you offer? Do you provide tuition reimbursement? Can employees take classes on the job?
- For employees who want to grow their careers with your company long-term, what does career advancement typically look like?
If a recruiter has contacted you to apply for a position, you have leverage to make it clear that developing your skills on the job matters to you. Your time is valuable, so try to find out early on in the job application process what sort of skills development you can expect. That way, you can move on from a position if it doesn’t offer learning and development opportunities.
2. Talk with Your Manager
Once you’ve started a new job, talk with your manager about creating a career development plan early on. A career development plan acts like a roadmap for where you see your career one, five and 10 years or more down the line.
A career development plan will outline the roles you want to obtain over time (lead, manager, director, etc.), along with details that help you get there. It can include:
- Skills to master
- Training/education to complete
- Credentials or certifications to obtain
- Achievements and milestones to reach
Putting a career development plan down in writing helps you and your manager stay accountable in your progress. It gives your manager the ability to think about what skills and training you need in order to move up. Then, you can work on accomplishing that, with a clear view of how you can advance your career at your company.
Agree on regular check-ins on your career development plan with your manager. A career development plan can facilitate open conversations about your progress with the company. It helps you focus on the work you need to do in order to advance, and it helps your manager more clearly monitor your progress.
3. Continuously Adapt Your Plan
Industries are constantly evolving, and your career goals may change over time, too. Where you see yourself in 10 years today may change next year.
Business demands may also impact your ability to advance your career at your employer. Ultimately, your ability to progress your career will depend on the business impact you can make with your newfound skills.
As you check in with your career development plan, make sure the skills you’re developing align with business goals, if you want to continue working for that employer. It’s important to stay aware of industry trends, so you know which skills will be in-demand in the future, and what skills aren’t as applicable.
As you develop your skills, you may find that you have new passions and interests that no longer fit with your current job or your industry. That’s OK, too. You can always explore new career pathways that need the skills you want to use.
Continue to edit your career development plan with skills and trainings that the positions you want require. Communicate with your manager about changes to a career plan, so you can both can stay on track with your career development.
Match Skills with Relevant Job Opportunities
Keep track of skills you develop, trainings you complete and certifications you obtain. You can add these to a resume and find job opportunities and employers that are looking for the expertise you have.
You may also find that your skills and talents match up with different departments and jobs at your company. Pay attention to internal job boards, as there may be open positions you’d be a fit for. Since you’re already integrated in the company culture and are a part of the larger team, there may be opportunities for internal mobility. Your employer can save on onboarding costs and retain your talent in a new department.
Wherever you are in your career, if you know you want to grow it, you deserve an employer who’s invested in your success, too. Candidates are increasingly prioritizing career development when they consider new jobs or whether to stay with their current employers. Employers are recognizing this, so it’s in your power to communicate your desires when you’re evaluating a job.