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job reviewMost of us dread the process associated with a yearly performance review, and for good reason – it’s a lot of time, thought and stress without truly knowing if we’ll get a salary adjustment or increase.

The review process usually starts with the dreaded “self-evaluation,” an overwhelming task if you haven’t kept track of your achievements in a file throughout the year.

Then you’re asked to set NEW goals for the following year – something a surprising amount of people don’t really think through. Sure, you can come up with a few tasks you know your manager wants to see accomplished. But the bigger question here is what do YOU want to develop into?

Too often professionals give no real effort in exploring their career development options.

Wouldn’t it be better for both you and your employer if you identify goals that you find exciting and challenging at the same time? Goals that can be building blocks to a better you?

I’m sure your answer is “yes, but where do I start?!” Here are some thoughts:

  1. Brainstorm a list of skills or tools you think would help you do your job better. These skills/tools could include additional certifications or advanced training you might want to obtain – things that could lead to new job roles that intrigue you. Don’t draw conclusions on what you think qualifies you to do the job, but really explore what you should focus on, develop, or acquire.
  2. Network internally. Don’t underestimate the power of creating relationships with other departments, key leaders, or the executive’s assistant. These are the people who “know people” and what skills are expected or rewarded in your workplace. Create a trusted network of professionals as you source information and explore options.
  3. Talk with the experts. The best information you can get is straight from the horse’s mouth. In other words, the people who have learned the skill, earned the certification or are currently in a position you might want to grow into. Reach out and see how they got where they are now, and consider how you can implement those career development learnings NOW.
  4. Seek out a mentor. A mentorship is one of the best ways to develop any career. Whether it’s someone who will advise you on your projects, let you sit in on their committee meetings, or give you a standing monthly coffee meeting to talk through your career, this could be part of your self-review/goals that leads to real professional growth.
  5. Connect with your boss. Often managers don’t even know someone wants to advance or transition to something different. If you are a great worker, the assumption from your boss might be that you are content with your current job. Talk about how you can partner with them to grow yourself, while at the same time add value to the department.

In summary, it no longer pays to just coast through your job, much less the job review process. Explore your options and get engaged in developing your career.