Want a good professional development activity?
Then Apply For a Job
May 17, 2023
Going through the job seeking and application process is arduous, but also a great professional development exercise. When you apply for a new position, if you’re doing it right, you take the time to reflect on your skills, areas for growth, and your goals. We should do this on an annual basis as part of our professional development. However, often – because we are busy – we skip it, or we do it half-heartedly just to get the task done and crossed off our, ever-growing to-do list. Taking the time to look at a potential position that interests you and examine the job description, do some research, tailor your resume or CV, and write a cover letter, forces you to reflect and assess your skills and talents in a meaningful way.
You should go through this exercise whether you love your job or not. You do not have to submit the application. It is the process that is beneficial. How? Let me count the ways…
- Realize your value – in a cover letter, you have to tout your successes. We need to remind ourselves of our achievements on a regular basis because it helps to build confidence, which allows us to take risks. This is especially beneficial for anyone who suffers from Imposter Syndrome.
- Reevaluate your goals – we should reevaluate our goals on an annual basis. Industries shift and change as technology is enhanced, which can have a significant impact on our future. It is perfectly okay to want to change business sectors because you don’t like the coming changes or you find changes in another area that interest you. In addition, as we gain experience, our interests and goals shift over time and evaluating goals on an annual basis allows you to measure your changes in real time.
- Focus on areas for growth – in a previous post, I introduced the Skills Matrix – it is a great idea to revisit this as you gain new skills and experiences, while also keeping an eye on the gaps, so you can determine how to fill those skills gaps.
- Understand you current status – this process often helps you realize you are happy where you are. Sure, there are elements of your job you might not relish – that is true for everyone – but overall, you may determine you like the company, the people, etc. However, sometimes this process helps you realize you are ready for a change. If that is the case, it is always best to be proactive versus waiting until your performance begins to dip.
So, take a look for an interesting job, go through the process and evaluate where you are, what you’ve done, and where you want to go. You now have two options:
- Hit send and apply for the position. This may involve seeking other potential positions. Focus on your worth and value, so you can shine in potential interviews.
- File the application materials in a folder but take the time to reflect on the experience and what you learned about yourself – embrace the value you bring – own it! Also think about how you can continue to grow in your current position.
Regardless of the path you choose, I recommend meeting with your supervisor and sharing your experience. If you plan on staying at the company, tell them and ask for their support in helping you grow. If you have made the decision to apply and leave – whether now or in the future – it can be beneficial to have a conversation about your choice and why you want to make it. I realize not all managers will be receptive to such a conversation. If, however, you have a manager who does support you, they can be helpful in your job search.
Best of luck!
Anne Converse Willkomm
Associate Dean, Graduate College
Associate Teaching Professor, Dept. of Communication, College of Arts and Sciences