Since 1967, the National Career Development Association has promoted November as National Career Development Month. The goal of the month is to improve career development, regardless of what stage in your working life you are at. It’s a time for everyone to focus on their choices and where they see themselves in the future.

Career development is important as it helps individuals identify their skills, values and interests, and analyse their position on the career ladder. It also encourages people to invest time into their development and explore the options available to them. It is never too late for anyone to excel in their career. If you’re a student, make appointments with teachers or guidance counsellors to hear their advice. If you’re already employed, now is a great time to assess if your job is making you truly happy or if there are changes you wish to make. To share his tips on improving your skills, Richard Evans, education expert and careers mentor at The Profs, is on hand.

 1) Change your mindset

If you have a goal in mind, it’s not just a pipe dream. It’s normally something that you’ve thought about long and hard, and you know that it’s possible to achieve. But sometimes, that voice inside your head starts to whisper. It reminds you of the  worry of failure or taking a risk on yourself. This voice can lead to inaction, which is something that will hold you back from achieving your goals. Now is not the time to listen to this voice. Now is the time to recognise it for what it is: fear. Not all fear is bad, but some of it will hold you back from reaching your full potential. Some of us are afraid that we’re too old to learn new things; we’re too old to change careers; we’re too old to do anything other than what we’re already doing. The truth is everyone has different levels of comfort and abilities when it comes to changing things in our lives, but it all begins with adopting a positive mindset.

2) Explore your goals

When you’ve faced your fears, it is vital to pinpoint the end goal. This step requires you to explore in depth what might bring you career satisfaction and ask yourself questions from an internal perspective such as ‘What do you want?’ ‘When do you want it?’ ‘Who are you working with?’ Where are you working? ‘How much money do you make?’ The answers to these questions may seem obvious at first, but once they are properly articulated, they can unlock direction and clarity in your life. Once you know where you want to go, what matters most is how quickly and efficiently can you get there.

3) Network in person

A fun way to meet people in your industry is to attend events where professionals go to network and mingle. As you attend more events and talk to more people, you’ll feel more confident about your abilities and about networking in general. By communicating with people at networking events, you’ll show them that you’re professional, knowledgeable and ambitious. You may even find out about a job that hasn’t been publicly advertised yet. Do your research online beforehand so that you know which companies are going to be represented at each event.

4) Network online

There are several ways to expand your network online, but LinkedIn is one of the easiest and most effective ways to connect with the right people. A LinkedIn profile allows you to showcase your skills, professional experience, and education. It makes it easy for others to find you and gives them an idea of who you are and what you’re all about. If someone sees that you have something in common with them—a connection at a mutual business school, for example—they may be more likely to act on an introduction.

5) Know when to ask for help

When you ask questions, you’re making an effort to learn and understand. Asking will not only afford you the opportunity to get a better understanding but will also help manage your manager’s expectations and ensure that you deliver the work on time. One thing to remember when asking a question is to be specific in describing the task or issue. For example, if you were provided with a set of data, describe what the data is before explaining what you need to do with it.

6) Ask for additional responsibilities

When you show initiative and take up additional responsibilities, it will show your interest in helping your department succeed. If you find yourself with a quieter than usual workload, reach out and help in other areas. This showcases your ability to handle higher responsibilities and be a team player.

7) Show confidence

Confidence is key when you wish to excel in your career. In any line of work, being confident is essential to demonstrate that you’re an expert in what you do. Be assertive with your teammates or manager if you need support on anything you’re working on, but never display any arrogance the higher up you climb the ladder.