7 Career Building Gifts for Yourself

It’s that time of year. Black Friday, Cyber Monday deals… Right now everyone is looking for the best deals on something they’ve been hoping for. I secretly think we’re all out shopping for ourselves, rather than for someone else…but maybe that’s just me and I’m a bit too selfish. 🙂

But this time of year isn’t just the time of year to think about tangible gifts for your personal life. It’s also a good time of year to think about your professional development. Whether you have career wanderlust, feel content or restless at your job, why not use this time of year to think of ways to give your career a boost? 

Your Career is Worth Investing In

Here are 7 gifts you could gift yourself to make your career feel fresh, to re-engage with your work, set yourself up for pursuing more challenging tasks next year, or just investing in yourself.

  1. Enrichment – this one is totally free! No cost to you or your employer. In the training world, when we’re talking about enrichment as a career building option, we’re talking about taking on new tasks & responsibilities while remaining in your current job. Sure it may not pay right this second, but if you’re looking for more challenging work, more task diversity, or a way to prove your abilities to your manager, you should discuss this option with your manager.
  2. Project rotation – Another option FREE to you and your employer. This is a temporary assignment or time-limited function that you take on to gain breadth and variety. Discuss with your manager the option to serve on another team, or shadow someone in another functional area, or contribute your knowledge by developing and offering a training workshop, for instance. 
  3. Formal professional development – this can range in cost from a one-time-only local workshop to working towards a highly specialized certification (read: $$$$). Be selective and strategic in your ask when you discuss this possibility and the budget with your manager. You’ll need to clearly articulate what you’ll get out of it, how it will benefit your work and the team, and how it will be an investment in your skills and abilities moving forward. But this time of year, many professional associations run discounts on courses or trainings, so when you’re online shopping, don’t forget to browse for how to advance your career! 
  4. Professional association – This is definitely a great option that not enough people take advantage of. There are organizations for, literally, every profession and academic discipline – both inside of higher ed, and industry-wide. Member benefits often include helpful email listservs, access to mentoring or career coaching programs, free webinars, and publications. 
  5. Informational interviews – another completely free option for you. This is invaluable at all times, but in particular, if you think after the holidays you might be job shopping or looking to narrow down what your career options are, start writing emails to schedule 30 minute calls with people you’d be interested in speaking with. (Though schedule them for after the holidays, people. Folks are busy!)
  6. Join a social group – Almost always free, you can find public and private groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, and yes, even Reddit, where you can connect with – or just commiserate! – with those looking for work or lamenting the job market. I find a lot of invaluable – and unexpected – career connections can be found in social spaces!
  7. Treat yourself to a new skill – One thing that I find a lot of my grad student and early career clients doing is signing up for eLearning courses to learn new skills and try things out as a way to attest to their interest level and abilities on their resume. Take advantage of seasonal discounts. For example, places like CreativeLive offer discounts on how to design and publish ebooks (a way to share your expertise and build like-minded followers!). But maybe you’ve got career burnout and just need a way to reinvigorate yourself. When you were in grad school, you were investing ACTUAL MONEY in yourself, so why not finally try out that free month of Lynda.com? Better yet, what if you find some fun discount on Groupon for a local cooking class or join a yoga studio or a drawing class? Something for your own self? GASP! #Worklifebalance, folks. It’s priceless. I find that this really benefits clients who ruminate about how much they are miserable at their current job. Having a creative or physical outlet can be a welcome distraction from a dead-end job. So, don’t go broke but if you find a steal on those yoga classes, snap that up and don’t feel guilty about it.

 #treatyoself. You deserve it! 

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