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What Is the Importance of Career Development?

Lainie Petersen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The importance of career development tends to vary by individual, but for many people, a successful career is, among other things, a significant contributor to personal happiness and financial security. When a person takes the time to set career goals and a plan for meeting them, she will often find that her job responsibilities and compensation progress steadily. When workers ignore their career development, they may find themselves stuck in dead-end jobs that are at best unfulfilling. In such cases, other areas of a worker's life may suffer.

For many young people, getting their first real job is a significant achievement. Yet they do not typically have a goal of simply remaining in the position for which they are hired forever. Instead, the young person may aspire to advancing within his current company or field. In some cases, he may also plan to use his current job as a stepping stone into a new career or occupation. The importance of career development for new workers is to make them aware of the opportunities open to them and how they can best achieve their work goals.

In the case of those who have been in the work force for a while or those who have left the work force for a period of time, the importance of career development may be a bit different. Job skills and even entire occupations can become obsolete. Even a worker who does not aspire to upper management or owning his own business can benefit from career counseling and vocational planning. By doing this, he can be aware of industry trends that may compromise the security of his job and take steps to sharpen his current skills or acquire training in other areas so as to secure his future employment. For those who have been out of the work force, assistance may be available through social service agencies as well as public employment services.

Many employers also place a great deal of emphasis on the importance of career development. These employers typically want their employees to succeed and progress in their employment and may provide services to employees who wish to remain with the company while also advancing in their field. These services may be provided through the human resources department, and those employees who demonstrate a strong interest in developing their career options may be more likely to be considered for promotion within the company as well as choice job assignments.

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Lainie Petersen
By Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an editor. With a unique educational background, she crafts engaging content and hosts podcasts and radio shows, showcasing her versatility as a media and communication professional. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any media organization.
Discussion Comments
By Saraq90 — On Oct 31, 2011

@tolleranza - I agree with you. But I also think that developing your career for the sake of developing your career can also be a good thing, especially when you are young or new to a business.

So if you know what you want by all means don't just develop your career, but if you don't then developing your career is a great way to learn about new avenues and roles as well as *not* developing your boredom because you are continually learning.

By tolleranza — On Oct 30, 2011

I began in my career thinking career development was important, but I realized four years into it and doing the "steps" that were a part of moving up and developing my career.

Then I stopped, took some time to think about why I was actually doing my job, and for me my reason was not to get to that next step. Rather I found my career development was about improving my quality of services and creating my own next step that was in line with improving my quality of life.

So in short, improving my quality of life was more important than trying to develop my career for the sake of developing my career.

So by all means, develop your career, but develop it because you feel you want that job at the end of the tunnel, don't just develop your career to develop it. Then all you have is ten years in a company, a better office, and a feeling of "Why did I spend the last ten years trying to get here?"

By starrynight — On Oct 29, 2011

When I was reading this article, the first thing that popped into my mind is how tough career planning development is for women who plan on becoming mothers. As the article said, if you're out of the workforce for awhile, you may have to update your skills. And you still might not be as marketable!

I think one thing moms can do to alleviate this problem is work as a freelancer or consultant in their field, if they can. That way they can stay relevant, but work a flexible schedule and take care of their kids. Because really, what is career development compared to family?

By Azuza — On Oct 28, 2011

@KaBoom - That's a good point. Both of my grandfather's worked for the same companies their whole lives. But most I know that are my age don't think twice about jumping ship to another job to advance their career. I think people have realized companies don't have a lot of loyalty to their employees, so why should they be loyal to the companies?

Anyway, I think education is another great career development system. I think it's best to get an associate's degree or bachelor's degree first, depending on your field. Then, go to work for a few years. A lot of times you can get your employer to pay for another degree. Free education and career advancement!

By KaBoom — On Oct 28, 2011

One thing a lot of people these days probably should include in their career development plan is changing jobs. I know that in the past, usually people would get a job and stay with that company until they retired.

However, that's no longer feasible. The company might go under, or might lay you off. Or, they may not have a position open to promote you to. Sometimes the only way to advance your career is to get a new job.

So, I think people just now entering the work force need to make a big point to network. And also to go things that look attractive on a resume. Don't just assume once you have a job you can stop job hunting!

By Crispety — On Oct 27, 2011

@Mutsy - A career plan for the next five years is always a good plan because if you don’t map out what you want to do and write it down, you will find that in five years you are still in the same job doing the same thing that you have always done with no progress.

I think that doing research on your field also helps to see what opportunities lies within the field itself. When I was in college I always looked at the want ads to see what jobs were most in demand and what qualifications were necessary to get them.

Even though I was in college at the time I was able to plan my courses more strategically and when I got out of school I had several job offers because of my relevant internship experience that I had with other firms.

This helped me be in a better position with my career goals then if I had just graduated with a degree and no pertinent experience.

By mutsy — On Oct 26, 2011

@SurfNTurf -Career development goals do need to be realistic because some people assume that when they get out of college they are going to have all kinds of job offers that are often double the salary of what they could actually expect.

A lot of universities have career development programs available to the students so that they could get an idea of what career paths are out there and how they go about entering a field that they are interested in.

The thing that is important to remember that you should try to get into a field that you love or particularly enjoy because if not you will have a hard time in your career. Some people focus strictly on the salary in a field without respect to the working conditions and the hours that they are expected to work.

For example, if you are interested in working traditional nine to five hours then a career in investment banking would not be for you because those people put in twelve to sixteen hour days on average.

Your career development goals have to match the lifestyle that you want otherwise you will be miserable in your career.

By surfNturf — On Oct 26, 2011

I know that career development goals are really important especially if you are just starting out in your career, but I think that you have to be realistic in your expectations.

I know people that have gotten their MBA’s in hopes of climbing up the corporate ladder a lot faster and sometimes they are stuck in their same positions a little longer because of the lack of available jobs.

I think that if your company offers a tuition reimbursement benefit on a degree like this you should take advantage of it, but have a clear idea of what position that you hope to get. Sometimes even if you have an advanced degree a company might look at your experience and weigh that a little heavier than the degree.

Career development planning should really include networking and joining professional organizations as well as obtaining additional education. They say that the majority of jobs available are never advertised. People are hired from these jobs because of referrals and who they know. Networking is probably the best thing you can do to develop your career plan.

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an...
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