Separate yourself from the pack
When it comes to shining at work or in interviews, there’s a weapon in your arsenal. And it’s one that’s available to everyone who wants to use it.
Self-development is that tool, and it’s incredibly important. We all think nothing of spending hours watching the TV or scrolling through social media, but how much time do we devote to our own improvement? If you examine successful people, it’s a consistent theme. They have invested in their own growth.
How do we define self-development?
Is it about getting better at what we already do? Not really, that’s just the result of practice and experience. Self-development is about expanding your awareness, growing your knowledge and skills. There are no set rules, of course. On a personal level, it might involve learning a new skill, such as a language or musical instrument, or perhaps adopting a different lifestyle to improve your health.
Professionally, it tends to revolve around pushing yourself outside of your current, probably comfortable, boundaries. That might involve shadowing another role, studying for a qualification, getting involved with a trade body, volunteering to present at the next conference. Or perhaps you decide to do your current job differently.
Here’s a worrying statistic. Only about half of middle managers can tell you what their company’s goals are. A great way to develop yourself is to ask questions about what the overall business objectives are and how you can contribute more towards them. Question line managers and colleagues about how they think you could do your job better and take up their suggestions. In this way, you become the very best version of yourself in your current role.
Why is it important?
There are personal and professional benefits to self-development, and they tend to build on one another. Perhaps one of the most useful reasons for embarking on it is that you’ll get a clearer picture of what you are capable of, and this leads on to becoming more lucid about what you want to do. Discovering your own values and beliefs helps you develop a clearer purpose in all aspects of your life.
By understanding yourself more, you’ll be able to set meaningful goals. Perhaps those evening classes in Italian result in you deciding you want to work in Rome. Once you realise that, you can set yourself objectives around how and when that will happen.
With that goal of moving to Rome in your sights, your motivation to continue with your language classes will be high. You’ll be driven to research what opportunities there are there and understand the processes to apply. And the urge to spend on fripperies when there’s airline tickets to save for will be easier to resist. You’ll be targeted and focused on what you need to do.
And yes, coming right back to the beginning of the blog, you’ll improve your career prospects. Employers are looking for you to demonstrate an ability to grow and learn. The corporate world changes rapidly, and businesses need workers who are adaptable and ready to take on new challenges—people who make the effort to keep up with current trends and keep pace with technology.
Demonstrate it right from the start
You should start showing your commitment to self-development at interview stage. If there’s someone else with similar experience on the shortlist, it could be the difference between getting the job or not.
There should be plenty of opportunities to demonstrate it to the interviewer. You may well be asked questions such as:
What are your weaknesses?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
What have been your biggest challenges?
What’s important to you in a job?
These are all opportunities to showcase your commitment to self-development. For example, perhaps you feel a weakness is addressing an audience. Rather than simply saying “I don’t always feel confident in public speaking”, you build in your self-development. “So to address this, I’ve enrolled in an evening class designed to improve my skills in this area.”
You can also demonstrate that you have researched the hot topics in the industry you are applying for, particularly when asked if you have any questions. “I’ve been reading some articles about digital transformation. It’s an area that has really interested me, and I’d like to know whether your company has plans in that area.”
One key thing about self-development. Don’t wait until you get an interview for your dream job to start thinking about it. Start your own development with a small step right now. That way, when the time comes, you can use your achievements to really shine.
Good luck – and do let us know about how you have tackled self-development and what benefits it has brought.
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