Top tips on asking for development opportunities at work

In your career, developing your skills and experience can help you stay up to date with the latest thinking, ensure you remain interested in your current job, and help you find new opportunities. So even if you’re in the dream job or organisation, it’s always a good idea to think about your personal development from time to time.

Applicants for our Rising Star Awards are encouraged to speak to their line manager or mentor about their aspirations, and to ask for help in developing a personal development plan. If you haven’t had these sorts of conversations before, sometimes it can be hard to know how to start. To help make things easier, we’ve listed some ideas here, so you’ll be on the right path in no time.

  • Ask your manager for a meeting to discuss your development. It doesn’t suggest you are going to quit, in fact, it shows that you are proactive and keen to learn. Increasing your skills keeps you employed there, and helps the company succeed.
  • Once you’ve got the meeting in the diary with your line manager, take time to prepare for it – what do you want to get out of it? Do you already know what training and development you can access through work? Have some ideas ready so you can get the conversation started.
  • Make a list of your accomplishments to date and some areas that you think you need help with. What skill gap are you trying to close, or what area do you want to build upon? Consider if these will not only benefit you in the position you are in now, but also your personal development for the future.
  • Draw up a personal development plan and establish milestones to assess and track your progress. Make sure there are no more than three actions to do at any one time, and use the SMART goal framework. This will help you meet your targets without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Try to check out if there’s a standard approach in your company – for example a Personal Development Plan template or an online learning portal – it’s a good idea to understand the norms in your organisation and work within them initially. Don’t be put off if this isn’t in place though – there are lots of useful templates online.
  • Don’t forget to review and evaluate your personal development plan. When you’ve achieved your first few goals, what’s next? Book the next meeting with your manager to review your plan and make sure you’re on track.
  • Doing it through work is not the only option. You can take matters into your own hands by signing up for online free courses, reading industry publications, attending events and conferences to build your network. A good place to start is Udemy, which has lots of courses that can inspire you.

Our Rising Star Awards open again in a few weeks. 18-30 year olds working in print, paper, packaging, publishing and graphics can apply for grants of up to £1500 for personal and career development to help grow in their careers. Sign up to our newsletter to hear more.

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