Are you frustrated that your manager or company is not ‘developing you’?

Do you feel you’re being held back from exciting and interesting projects?

Are you waiting for the ‘right’ job to come along, or moaning that no one is recruiting right now?


Across all sectors of the job market, we face peaks and troughs, periods of temporary and ever-moving challenges. This means having to rethink, create and explore different approaches and ways of working, alongside how we manage our own expectations. In order to better manage and navigate our way through our working life, we need to be better prepared and resilient, able to be more flexible and curious about opportunities that present themselves.

You own your own career – companies don’t own it for you!

It can be worth reminding yourself that it is not the sole responsibility of your manager or organisation to ‘develop you’, or identify the next big thing that you’d be perfect for. Their agenda and business needs may not necessarily be aligned with where you want to be.

The ever-changing growth or decline of sectors and industries can influence the jobs and opportunities that are out there in the market place, but that doesn’t mean all recruitment stops.

If you are approaching career planning from a place of lack or scarcity, you are relinquishing any control.  You need to manage your career, tend to it so it will grow and flourish. See it from a place of abundance of opportunities rather than a lack of them.

We spend so much time at work managing our endlessly full in-boxes and commitments, yet we rarely take time to pause and evaluate HOW we can improve and maximise our potential.

Planning is certainly an important element of career development, but it’s also recognising that chance plays a role. If you feel you’re too reliant on having a great detailed career plan, then consider another perspective. Planned Happenstance is the view that you can create opportunities by taking action on your curiosity and on chance events. So, if things don’t go to plan, then you look for or create new opportunities, be proactive in networking with people who are in roles that are of interest, and be open to where all these experiences may take you. Be prepared to embrace chance opportunities, such as unexpected phone calls, impromptu conversations and new experiences.  Be open-minded, curious and asking ‘what if…’

“Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.” Sheryl Sandberg

Create your own opportunities

The constant striving for finding the ‘perfect job’ and the ‘right time’ can also serve to remind us that how you get a job is not a one size fits all. If the right mix of role, company, location and package are not coming together for you, then you need to create your own opportunities.

Identify what may be possible within your current role or company and who you need to speak to about this. Sometimes, however, the finance and scope of opportunities aren’t always there, so be prepared that you may need to invest your own time or money outside of work to get the personal and professional development you seek.

  • How much time are you prepared to commit to this?
  • What potential opportunities could result from this?
  • What would be the possible consequence of not developing yourself?

A few ideas to consider:

  • Mentoring – either be a Mentor for others or benefit from being mentored yourself
  • Community or voluntary work
  • Secondments
  • Work shadowing
  • Attend conferences, webinars, events
  • Surround yourself with like-minded positive people and improve your networks – LinkedIn, groups, speak to people doing the job you want to do…
  • Are you a member of a professional body/trade association? If yes, make more of the services they provide, and if you’re not, investigate what opportunities they could give you
  • Short training courses or workshops
  • Professional qualifications
  • Ask your line manager if you could be involved in different projects or sit in on meetings to get some insight
  • Join steering groups/committees
  • Identify if you can solve a particular type of problem within your industry and focus on becoming a specialist/subject-matter expert in your field
  • Write! Contribute to blogs, the company newsletter, volunteer to write an article…


I hope some of the above ideas have made you curious to explore more. See what happens when you start taking ownership and responsibility for your career and personal development.

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