Own Your Future: How to Talk to Your Boss About Your Career Development

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Own Your Future: How to Talk to Your Boss About Your Career Development

Balancing work and life leads to a challenging and fulfilling journey. Proactively driving your career development with your boss unlocks personal success and happiness. It's about empowering yourself to shape your future. One of the most impactful ways to embark on this journey is to confidently discuss your career development with your boss.

Career development helps you discover your strengths and supports you in advancing professionally. 

This article aims to give you guidance on how to initiate these discussions. You might fear being seen as demanding, unprepared, or lacking the "right" experience. But remember, your desire for growth is not just about you. It's about the mutual benefits that career development brings to you and the organisation. Your growth contributes to the company's success, making you an integral part of it. 


When should you discuss career development with your boss?


Don't wait for your annual performance review. As with the ever-changing nature of today’s workplace, career development opportunities can appear within a short window. To maximise these opportunities and constantly improve as an employee, there is no better time to schedule that career discussion with your boss than now.


Preparation is key


Before initiating the conversation, reflect on your career development goals and aspirations and ensure you are adequately prepared for the discussion with your boss. 

Self-assessment: Begin by identifying your strengths and areas for development. This crucial step will provide you with a clear understanding of where you stand and what you need to work on. To gain further insights, consider taking online assessments or personality tests. Free personality tests are readily available online.

Research and goals: Research potential career paths within your company. Talk to colleagues in different departments and explore internal opportunities This will help you define specific and attainable goals.

Align your goals: It's essential to align your goals with the organisation’s strategic objectives. This shows your commitment to the organisation's success and strengthens your position by demonstrating how your growth can contribute to the company's needs.


How to frame the discussion


Now that you're armed with information, confidently reach out to your boss. Here are some tips for framing the discussion:

Make an appointment: The best time to have a career conversation is not in the middle of a hallway discussion or other impromptu sessions but when career development is the only topic on the agenda, and there are no distractions. Make an appointment to have a one-on-one with your boss, at a convenient time.

Set the tone: Start by acknowledging your appreciation for your current role and responsibilities and the growth your role has afforded you up until that point.

Focus on growth: Emphasise your desire to learn and grow within the company. Saying something along the lines of: "I'm eager to contribute further and see how I can develop my skills to take on new challenges" will showcase your commitment to the organisation.


How to make the most of your meeting


Articulate goals: Communicate your career aspirations. Use specific examples of skills you want to develop and potential projects you'd like to take on.

Demonstrate initiative: Showcase your research. Discuss specific training programmes, workshops, or mentorship opportunities that align with your career goals and would aid your career development.

Open communication: During the discussion, it's essential to actively listen to your boss's feedback. This not only shows respect but also allows you to understand potential roadblocks and collaborate effectively to create a plan that will provide you with career development.


Stay positive


Talking about career development can go in unpredictable directions. Your request for an honest evaluation of your abilities can result in unfavourable comments, or your boss might not think your career goals are achievable. 

Maintaining a positive attitude is essential in these circumstances. Don't feel despondent; instead, seek advice on advancing and improving. Tell your boss that you value your current role and that you want to bring value to the organisation. 

If you disagree with your boss's opinion or decision, gently express your thoughts respectfully, with evidence, but never argue or criticise your boss, as this can harm future career discussions.


Go in there with confidence


Feeling nervous is natural, but remember, you’ve got this. Here are some tips to boost your confidence:

  • Dress for success: When you are wearing your best, it projects confidence.
  • Practice makes perfect: Role-play the conversation with a friend or colleague to refine your talking points.
  • Focus on facts: Don't downplay your achievements. Frame your discussion with facts and concrete data points about your contributions to the organisation.
  • Remember your value: You bring a unique skill set and dedication to the organisation. Recognise your worth and own your desire for professional growth.

Read our article: The importance of confidence for working women in career success.


Take charge of your future


Whether you stay in your current role or move on, this conversation is essential for your career development. With the proper preparation and approach, you can have a productive discussion that sets you on the path to success. 

At RecruitMyMom we recognise the value women bring to an organisation, and we encourage our clients to invest in their female employee’s career development.

Join our skilled moms database and apply for the job that you’ve always wanted.