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Career growth requires career development

January 03, 2022

If you’re eyeing a promotion or craving more challenge at work, knowing the distinction between career development and career growth can help you reach your goals. In this brief interview, Jeff Moore, VP of Delivery, Global Success at Pluralsight shares insights on how to maximize your professional success.

What’s the difference between career growth and career development?

JM: Career development involves expanding your skills and expertise through project work, self-study and other learning experiences (courses, conferences, meetups and so forth). This is vitally important in software and data roles, because technology is evolving so rapidly. If you’re not proactive about refreshing your knowledge and adding new skills, it will be very difficult to achieve career growth.


Career growth refers to role growth—expanded responsibilities, opportunities to work on more complex projects and most importantly, a growing “impact footprint.” When you grow in your role, you’re able to make a larger contribution to achieving company goals.


Sometimes, career growth can involve promotions and pay increases. But it’s helpful to think about “career growth” as something that precedes a promotion. You get a promotion and/or more compensation, because you’re delivering increased value.


What’s the best way to approach career development?

JM: To foster your career development, take a look at your responsibilities today and ask yourself, “What can I learn today that would help me do my current job even better?” Also, look around you. What role would you like to grow into, and what skills would you need for that role? Ideally, career development is anticipatory. Start today to develop skills that might be useful in six months. Even if you can’t use those skills in your job today, you are demonstrating commitment to personal growth and organizational success.


Career development is your responsibility as an employee; don’t expect someone to hand it to you. Many employers offer learning resources—self-paced learning libraries, instructor-led classes, opportunities to attend conferences and so forth. If your company provides these resources, fantastic—utilize them. But if your employer doesn’t offer these resources, it’s up to you to identify options online or in your community to update your tech skills regularly.


What do you do when you feel ready for increased job responsibilities?

Career growth requires some assertiveness. If you think you’re prepared for increased responsibilities or more complex projects, let your manager know. For example, “I would like to gain experience with XYZ skill. Is there a way to incorporate this into my next assignment?”


Be humble, willing to do the projects requested by your organization. Be patient, knowing that even though you may feel ready for additional responsibility, your employer may want to see your track record over a period of time before adding to your plate. Every project can be an opportunity to learn something new and/or refine a skill.


Be positive. If you feel you’re ready for more responsibility but it’s not coming as quickly as you’d like, it’s easy to start grumbling. Don’t. Career growth comes more quickly to individuals with positive attitudes.


Finally, be aware that your performance speaks louder than words. Aim every day to deliver your best work. Building a reputation as dependable, thorough, creative and quality-focused will accelerate your career growth.