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August 18, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Take responsibility for your career development

Who is responsible for developing a person’s career? According to a recent survey, there is disagreement about whether it should be the responsibility of an individual or an employer.

“The Real Story Behind Career Development: Who is Responsible?” is a joint research study conducted by EdAssist and the University of Phoenix to explore employees’ and managers’ perceptions of whose responsibility it is to drive career development. The results showed key disparities between the two groups’ perceptions:

  • Most workers believe it is employers’ responsibility to teach career development: 74 percent say employers should provide professional-development training, 71 percent say they should identify job opportunities and career paths, and 68 percent say they should provide career-advancement mentoring.
  • Most managers believe employees must take responsibility for their career development: 98 percent say workers should continually update and improve their skills, 85 percent say they should identify job opportunities and career paths, and 80 percent say they should be responsible for building their job-hunting and career-planning skills.

The results demonstrate why many workers and organizations fail at career management — each believes the other should be responsible.

While many companies have implemented career planning and training, not all employees are lucky enough to work at such organizations. This means you need to take ownership in driving your career advancement. Here’s how:

Define your career aspirations. If you don’t know where you want to go, how will you get there? Take time to clearly define your aspirations. Where do you want to be in your career in three years, five years, 10 years?

Identify your goals and create your career plan. Goals reflect what you want to accomplish to improve yourself and to move forward in your career. They ensure that you are headed in the right direction and help you achieve your aspirations quickly and efficiently.

Share your plan with your manager. Ask him or her for feedback. Are there other skills you should learn, education you should pursue or certifications you should obtain?

Find out about training and tuition assistance. Are there company-sponsored training sessions you could attend? Does your employer provide tuition reimbursement? Take advantage of every opportunity your company offers to help you advance in your career.

Provide regular updates. Share your development progress with your manager and HR representative on a regular basis. Use these opportunities to discuss career options and to get guidance and feedback.

Even though the study results demonstrated confusion in ownership of career planning, ultimately, the person responsible for your career is YOU. Achieving career success requires more than luck and hard work — it requires a plan. So grab a cup of coffee, sit down and create yours.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at

More in Work Life Blog | Topics: career advancement, career change, career planning, self-promotion

Blog contributors

Randy Woods Writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Former contributors

Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.


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