How to Deal

Career Development Doesn't Have to Mean Changing Jobs

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By Lily Garcia
Special to washingtonpost.com
Thursday, February 21, 2008; 12:00 AM

I am constantly being pushed in my current job to do this or do that for career development. I really like my job and there is really nothing else within this company that appeals to me outside of what I am currently doing. I really feel like I am being harassed by management. I have made it very clear that I would have no problem doing my current job from now on. Realizing that this limits my career choices, it is still my choice. Am I fighting a losing battle in Corporate America by pushing back on so-called career development?

Very well, then. But you can always be better at what you do, right? It is fine that you do not aspire to a different job, but career development does not necessarily mean changing what you do for a living. By striving for greater depth and dimension within your current role, you can become a stronger performer and a more satisfied professional.

Many employees, whether by choice or by circumstance, end up working the same job for long stretches of time. Yet, they can still achieve career development through such activities as:

  • Joining and becoming active in trade organizations. These can provide opportunities for learning through formal programs and networking.
  • Obtaining a certificate or an advanced degree. Even if you stay in your current job, completing an advanced degree or a certificate program can mean greater skill, greater credibility and greater pay.
  • Becoming involved in employee committees and other in-house initiatives. By working alongside your peers to achieve organizational goals, you can forge valuable alliances, which may make your job easier to do. You will also learn how to get things done within the decision-making systems you contend with every day while becoming known as an employee who is committed to the organization.
  • Working on your peripheral skills. Even if you don't want to get that MBA, you can still enhance your job performance by getting better at the basic tools of the office trade. If you use Excel in your work, for example, try mastering the advanced features of the program. See if you can become a faster and more accurate typist. Or take a course on basic HTML so that you don't always have to wait for the technology department to address your IT issues.

Your managers might never stop asking you to make a career development plan. And that is a good thing. It means that they are invested to some extent in your future, which is more than many employees can say for their supervisors. So, rather than fighting against them, try responding with a variation on the career development theme: one that respects your desire to stay put in your role.

Join Lily Garcia on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 11 a.m. ET for How to Deal Live.

Lily Garcia has offered employment law and human resources advice to companies of all sizes for 10 years. To submit a question, e-mail hradvice@washingtonpost.com. We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for length and clarity and cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered. The information contained in this column is not intended to be legal advice.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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