The words education, vision, skills, interests, values, and goals are in a circle with the word career in the center.

How to Improve Your Career Development

Regularly evolving your skills can lead to a long and successful career. 
By Robin Reshwan. As seen on


One of the perks of targeting tech in your career development plan is that there are multiple free and low-cost ways to access training. Most software manufacturers offer free tutorials and resources because they want you to use their tools more effectively. If you would like deeper or specific knowledge, you can ask questions on community boards often managed or monitored by csoftware manufacturers.

Additionally, there are many low-cost online training courses available, with several vendors and schools giving free access due to COVID-19. When you embrace technology that increases your productivity, you gain back valuable time every day that you can use for higher value work or more strategic endeavors.

Continue Learning About Your Industry

"We know a thing or two, because we've seen a thing or two." Farmers Insurance apparently knows about career development, too, with their slogan. Employees who are knowledgeable about their industry and their profession often add more value than those who are novices. The benefits, from an employer's perspective, are that a knowledgeable employee is more likely to be efficient, engaged and able to avoid common pitfalls because they can anticipate and avoid problems before they occur. Additionally, an employee who actively strengthens their industry knowledge shows both passion and professional commitment. These attributes lead to greater contribution and improved morale.

To strengthen your subject matter knowledge, look for industry webinars, podcasts, virtual panels and classes. You can also follow news and articles focused on the latest trends and innovations in your field. Make your focus on the future, not the past. If you hear yourself referencing "how things used to be done" more often than what your competitors are doing today or where the areas for disruption are for your field, it is time to switch up your game.

Build Your Core Competencies

Investopedia describes a core competency as a "defining characteristic that makes a company or individual stand out from the competition." A key to career development is continually strengthening the skills you bring to a work environment – i.e., evolving your competencies to make sure they are relevant and competitive. Some examples of competencies in demand for today's workplace include communication, training and development, managing performance, coaching and mentoring, ensuring quality and excellence, problem solving, priority management, project management, planning and change management.

Options and access to training to strengthen these skills have never been better. A first step is to select one or two competencies that you think are in greatest demand, given your current and future career goals. Look for ways in your current work and volunteer efforts to apply and hone these skills.

Next, look for virtual classes and presentations on these subjects. Many educators and presenters are offering access for free or at a low cost to help people impacted during the current pandemic. Take advantage of this unprecedented availability to build your knowledge and skills.

Uncertainty is stressful, but it presents an opportunity or necessity to change. In committing to a plan for professional development, you take control of the abilities and skills you bring to your work. The pursuit of increased technical productivity, industry and professional expertise and overall competencies will not only improve your career options but also strengthen your ability to thrive during difficult conditions

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