How to Develop Yourself When Your Company Won’t

According to a study by Gallup, 85 percent of people hate their jobs. For every 4 out of 5 people you come across, four of them will not like their boss.

That’s pretty substantial.

From my observations, many folks don’t like their positions because of unclear expectations of roles in the workplace, lack of resources to perform well, the purpose behind their work, the community around the workplace, and treatment of employees.

If you don’t have the developmental resources you may hope for, it’s time to stop playing the victim and take your professional development into your own hands.

If you’re motivated enough to take charge, there are goals you can aspire towards to develop your career – whether your employer will help or not.

Communicate with your employer

Though it may seem risky, have the conversation with your employer in regard to professional development opportunities.

Ask if there are any resources accessible for you to take advantage of. Regardless of your occupation, there’s always something to learn. Work in a sales environment? Try different ways of tracking your leads.

Find a solution to be more productive in the day? Share it with your employer and team and encourage others to join you. Maybe after you’ve proven yourself, they’ll give you an opportunity. Maybe your direct report is drowning in work that they don’t even realize this desire of yours to improve. Or, maybe not. Still, have an open and honest conversation that you’d like to grow, and that will give you a basis to start.

Continue to educate yourself

 Though finding an employer to pay for continued education is a treasure, it’s not always plausible. But if you would like to continue your education or develop certain skills, think outside of the box.

Maybe for a season you can juggle working part-time at Starbucks in exchange for their higher education program. Or, it’s arguable that online programs are quickly becoming more relevant than college courses based on the applicable skills taught.

Try taking courses with Udemy or Skillshare, or even free certifications through Hubspot and Google. Even if only for 30 minutes a day on your lunch break, find a way to educate yourself and diversify your skill set.

Find or start a networking group

Organizations like Meetup, Eventbrite, or your local Chamber of Commerce are great resources to help you network. Most people approach these events completely wrong and only go looking for clients. But, if you pursue them with the perspective of building relationships, you’ll gain so much more over time.

Otherwise, volunteer in your city. Find organizations that connect you to both like-minded and diverse groups of people that challenge your thinking, and help connect you to others.

The larger your network, the larger your resource pool when looking for prospective employment opportunities, personal growth catalysts, or just support in whatever season of your career you may be in.

Create a contact database

As you continue to develop your professional development community, develop a contact database to keep track of your connections. Almost like a prospect list, note names, phone numbers, emails, and identifying pieces of information – like where this person goes to church, how many kids they have, something you have in common, or when you last saw them – to keep on file.

Stay in touch with the connections over time that may be valuable to your career and growth, and allow them to contact you to do the same. You never know where it may lead.

Find a mentor

Finding a mentor can sound overwhelming, but may just be the push you need to help you grow in your field. A mentor can offer insight, advice, and experience that can save you significant time and energy when you’re starting off in your career, or even changing your career path.

Once you’ve established a networking community and contact list, consider thinking of people within your sphere that can help you establish and work toward your career goals. And, don’t be afraid to reach out to your dream mentor to connect. 

Remember: it’s your career, not theirs

At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own career path. Ultimately it is not your employer’s responsibility to develop you, it’s your own.

So take charge of your career, and find ways to add value and relevant experience at your 9-5 until you’ve developed yourself for the next season.

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