Women In Business

11 tips to answering the question about your development


How do you think you’re doing in your job?

Are you doing well and performing at a top level? And how do you want to develop? You can expect to hear these questions from your boss at some stage and answering the question about development could be crucial to your career path.

Knowing how to answer this question properly is vital to your boss or company being able to see how to help you develop – and also for them to see you are serious about  your job and furthering your career.

By knowing to answer ‘how do you want to develop your career?’, you will have a greater chance of actually finding the success you want and being able to say ‘here I am, look how far I have come’.

1. Be relevant

Being—and staying—relevant in your job is very important to your career development. When your boss asks you about how relevant you are, stick to the main points like your job, your skills and ambitions for the future. These are the things they’re interested in and not your thoughts on Pluto being a planet again. (Unless you’re an Astro-something-or-other).

Saying things like “I want to get better at negotiation” or “be a team leader” are things that show your boss you want to develop and move forward just as much as they want to see you move forward.

So, when answering ‘how do you want to develop your career’, don’t give a general, cookie cutter answer. Pinpoint what you want to achieve and remember that ‘being relevant’ doesn’t always mean knowing about all the current trends. It’s also about knowing what your job is and where you can go from there.

2. Think short- and long- term

Having a goal—whether it’s a long or short term one—can help you stay on track to progressing within your job and achieving the success you want in your chosen profession/industry.

Saying things like “one of my short term goals is to meet deadlines better to improve my effectiveness in the workplace” or “my long term goal is to be a manager one day” are great things to show that you do have goals, you know your value within the workplace and what your aspirations are for the future.

And remember, goals—whether long or short term—are always things you want to improve on, just as with skills or effectiveness.

3. Pick a challenging, but realistic goal

Goals should always challenge you, but should also be ones that you can actually achieve.

When your boss asks you about your development, a good way to respond is by saying something like “I want to keep challenging myself by constantly learning and up-skilling myself so that I become a manager or CEO one day”.

Not only is it a great way to show that you want to keep developing your career or that you’re not scared of climbing the ladder and going higher and higher, it’s something your boss wants to hear because they do want to see you accomplish things and live up to your potential.

In order for you to do this though, you have to have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish—including a timeframe— you have to utilize your skills and, most importantly, learn new ones as you go along.

4. Keep the answer relevant to your job levels

At some point in your career you may want to be the boss, but you always have to start somewhere, developing and honing your skills over time.

During interviews for a promotion, or even during performance reviews, your boss will ask you how you have developed in your career so far and how the skills you’ve learned qualify you for more work or a promotion.

In answering this, a good thing to say is something like, “Over the years, since I started working here, I have worked with great people and learned a lot of skills. And also during those years, I feel I have developed and honed those skills to the point where I can take on more work or earned a promotion”.

This is a great way to show gratitude to the people who have taught you and discuss the skills you have learned which qualify you for more work or a promotion.

In giving an answer like this, you also display one other very important trait. Confidence. This is also a very important and vital trait to have if, for example, you want to be lead people or even become the manager or boss one day.

5. Narrow paths can be precarious

Although it is good to have a particular focus in mind when it comes to your career and what you want to do, you should also never say never.

If your boss quizzes you on why you took an opportunity to do something that had nothing to do with your ultimate your career goal and how it relates to your development, respond with something like, “I took that opportunity because I wanted to expand on my overall knowledge and life experience. It was also something I’d never done before but had always wanted to and I felt that it would add to my career development because it would make me a little braver and take chances”.

So, even if an opportunity comes along that doesn’t really have anything to do with what you are currently doing or what you want to do in the future, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Take a chance. You never know where it might lead or teach you.

6. Timing is everything

Knowing when to take chances is, perhaps, as important as actually taking them. Mainly because timing is everything. Without careful planning of when you’ll do what—and how you’ll get it—the things you want to achieve may not go as planned.

If you boss asks you why you chose this particular moment to apply for a promotion or even go back to school and learning something new, respond with something like, “I felt confident in my skills at the time and they have only grown since taking on the job” or “I have a drive to be the best I can be and I felt like my skills and knowledge weren’t up to par with ho I felt, so I decided to go back and learn new things”.

By saying this, you will show that you are willing to step outside your comfort zone and even step right up to the plate to get something you want and achieve your goals.

7. Don’t be all business all the time

Focus is a great thing to have. But it can also make you seem like a stuffy, all-work-and-no-play kind of person, who can’t even say hello or goodbye to a colleague.

When asked about your development, it would also be good to mention how you have connected and built relationships with colleagues and even clients. This can be done by saying something like, “In the beginning it was difficult because I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me. But over the years, we have built a very good working relationship”.

This shows that, in addition to being good at your job, you are also good at building relationships with colleagues and clients. This can also be very good for furthering your career development because it can add to your leadership abilities.

So, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone (or workspace), say hello and join your colleagues for a coffee from time to time.

8. Keep your dreams and passions alive

Keeping your dreams and passions alive can come in many forms. It can be by having a picture or words of encouragement near by to motivate you or even by actually working in your dream job or industry. But whatever it is, it’s important to remember what they are.

When asked about them and how they relate to your career development, a good way to put it might be by saying, “I’ve always been a leader. In sports and on other school team activities. So I translated that into wanting to be a manager, CEO or owner of a business one day, leading and guiding a team to achieve something great”.

Now, that’s pretty general, but easily translatable to so many dreams and passions that it almost doesn’t matter what you want to do, as long as you know what you want to do, how to communicate it to others and how you might achieve it.

9. Know your skills and talents

Knowing what your skills and talents are can give you the confidence to take more chances and put yourself up for new challenges.

When asked about what they are and how you will use them to develop your career, talk about how you did develop them and how they have helped in the past by saying something like, “When I began working here, I was quite shy and was a little scared to lead anyone or tell them what to do. Since then, I have learned and developed skills in leadership and am now quite comfortable giving people direction”.

This will also show your confidence as a worker and how your skills and talents could also help others develop their leadership skills and become as confident as you.

10. Keep talking to people to find out what different people do — keep your own options open

People can be fascinating and often do jobs we would never dream of doing or even think can exist. And the only way we can know any of this is by talking to them and finding out exactly what they do for a living.

If, for example, your boss asks you why you spent an hour and half talking to people in different departments about what they do for a living and if they enjoy it, you would probably respond with, “I spoke to them because I was interested in what they did for a living and if they enjoyed it. I also wanted to get a different perspective on things like who works at this company and how they find working here”.

This can go a long way in your career development because it shows that you don’t see the business as being separated silos, and you are interested in it as a whole.

11. Volunteer — to get experience and variety

Volunteering has many benefits. It helps local communities and people overseas during times of crisis, like war or a natural disaster. But, volunteering isn’t limited to acts of kindness or a need to help others. It can also be done in the workplace to improve or learn new skills and even find a new career.

If, for example, you work at a newspaper as a writer and your boss asks how volunteering to work in the art department for a week for no pay has helped you develop your career, you could respond with something like, “Although, in a way, I always knew this, it helped me see that putting this newspaper is more of a team effort than I realized and in the future I want continue using that mentality: that you never really work alone, everything is a team effort. That there is always someone behind you, supporting you and making sure you don’t fall flat on your face”.

About Rowena Nagy

Rowena Nagy is a Journalist at The Business Woman Media. A graduate in Journalism, Media and Communications, she is passionate about in writing, travel journalism, video journalism and Public Relations.

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