5 Personal Development Tips to Progress Your Career

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 17, 2021

Personal development is the continuous pursuit of personal and professional growth. By regularly assessing your life goals, core values and current skill set, you can keep track of your personal development. Understanding personal development skills and how to grow them leads to greater satisfaction with your personal and professional life. In this article, we'll discuss what personal development skills are, how to improve them, how to show them at work and how to highlight those skills when looking for a new role.

What is personal development?

Personal development is the ongoing process of self-improvement. By assessing your current skill set, identifying skills you want to nurture and setting out a plan to develop those skills, you can progress your career and reach your full potential. While some people undertake formal education or training courses to progress their personal development, others may find advice from a mentor or self-help is the key to their success. Whichever method works best for you, the most important thing to remember about personal development is that it's an ongoing process.

Those with strong personal development skills recognize that there's not necessarily an end goal. Instead, when they achieve a personal or professional goal, it creates an opportunity to reflect and restart the process. For example, if you have achieved your career goal of becoming a chartered accountant, take the opportunity to reflect on your skills, goals and values, and set a new performance-related or personal goal to work towards next.

Related: SMART Goals: Objectives for Your Career

Examples of personal development skills

Personal development skills are abilities and qualities that support your personal or professional growth. By understanding what skills contribute to your personal development, you can focus on improving those skills and identify qualities to improve your personal or professional life. While individuals may value skills differently depending on their personal development goals, here are some examples of skills that contribute to personal growth:

  • Self-confidence

  • Organization

  • Communication

  • Problem-solving

  • Work ethic


When pursuing personal development, individuals often find themselves in new and challenging situations as they learn new skills and abilities. Having the self-confidence to pursue new things and believing in your ability to achieve your goals is essential when working on your personal development.


While being organized might come naturally to some, it's a skill that can be developed, and doing so is an important part of personal development. Your ability to plan, schedule and prioritize are important when pursuing personal development. You may find yourself juggling multiple priorities as you work on growing your skill set, so the ability to manage your time will help you fit several priorities into your weekly schedule and make progress towards achieving your goals.


Strong communication skills enable you to convey your point of view concisely and help you better understand others. By working on your writing, speaking and listening skills, you can become a great communicator, allowing you to enter new situations with confidence.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples


Problem-solving is the ability to overcome challenging or unforeseen situations. Taking a moment to analyze a situation, identify the root cause of a problem and then troubleshoot to resolve the issue are all skills that develop with practice. By developing your problem-solving skills, you'll find you're able to stay calm and handle unexpected obstacles with ease.

Work ethic

Having a strong work ethic means being reliable, hardworking, determined and disciplined. Honing these abilities is important when pursuing personal development, as you may face challenging situations or struggle to master skills during self-growth. Having the drive and determination to continue pursuing personal development goals is key to progressing in your career or personal life.

Personal development skills may be different for you depending on your goals. So take the time to consider what skills will help you achieve your personal development goals. As with most soft skills although some of these may come more naturally, you can improve others with practice.

How to improve your personal development skills

You can improve personal development skills through formal education, training courses and workshops, learning from your peers or through mentorship. Some skills develop independently through consistent practice, whether that's learning a new talent or improving current ones. Here are a few tips to help improve your personal development skills:

  1. Face your fears. Overcoming fears is incredibly empowering, and it's essential when working on your personal development, as you'll likely find yourself in new and sometimes uncomfortable situations. If you lack confidence when speaking in public, meet the challenge. Take a workshop or course to improve. Turning weaknesses into strengths will leave you feeling confident and ready to pursue more ambitious goals.

  2. Learn a new skill. There might be a particular skill you need to progress for work, or you might be curious about learning something new. Whatever your reason, learning a new skill is an opportunity to grow your skill set and broaden your possibilities. You could learn from a friend or colleague, take a course or watch a webinar.

  3. Reflect. The first step to improving your skills is becoming self-aware and finding what you might be missing. Taking the time to reflect on your skills, qualities, values and goals will help you find the direction you want to pursue in your career or personal life. Taking the time to reflect frequently while working on personal development can also motivate you to continue developing as you'll see just how far you've progressed.

  4. Ask for feedback. Alongside personal reflection, asking your peers, friends or mentor for feedback on a recent accomplishment or project helps you identify strengths and weaknesses you might not recognize within yourself. Being open to honest feedback and constructive criticism can only benefit your personal development. It helps you identify and work on areas you might wish to improve.

  5. Be curious. Observe others you admire who show a particular quality you'd like to work on. Ask questions to better understand a process or topic. Through watching friends or colleagues and inquiring about how they developed a particular skill, you'll feel inspired and empowered to pursue those skills too.

Personal development skills in the workplace

Personal development skills can apply to any area of your life; in particular, these practices may help to benefit your career progression and professional growth:

  • Organize your time. By planning your day and scheduling tasks, you'll find it easier to meet deadlines and complete tasks more quickly. Scheduling tasks also means you'll be able to reach out to coworkers ahead of time if you'd like to collaborate on a project. They'll likely appreciate the advance notice , and it will enable them to prepare for the joint project too.

  • Be an active listener. Focusing on and paying attention to what people say are important communication skills. Being an active listener will help you remember important details, understand what others are communicating and improve the quality of your responses.

  • Stick with challenging problems. Staying calm and working through difficult situations will improve your problem-solving and critical thinking skills. While it's important to take on challenging tasks, knowing when to ask for help and guidance is equally important and can provide a learning opportunity.

  • Adapt to change. Being flexible and open to change can create more opportunities for you within your career. By adapting to changes in your work environment such as working in a team or independently, accepting new ideas and managing multiple projects, you'll be able to handle changes in your life and work more easily.

Read more: A Guide to Soft Skills

How to highlight personal development skills

Knowing how to convey your personal development skills during a job search will show employers why you're a great candidate.

Personal development skills for a resume or cover letter

Creating a "skills" section on your resume highlights skills relevant to the role you're applying for. This is a simple way to present your skills to employers. Within your cover letter, you can further elaborate on those skills and provide employers with examples of how you've shown those skills in previous positions. For example, if you've highlighted your communication skills on your resume, you can further elaborate on successful sales pitches you've presented in previous roles.

Related: 14 Resume Writing Tips to Help You Land a Job

Personal development skills for the job interview

The job interview is the best time to show your personal development skills to potential employers. By arriving 5-10 minutes early for your interview, you can show employers your organization and time-management skills. During the interview, be sure to highlight your personal development skills when asked questions such as “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” and “What are your goals?”. These interview questions provide the perfect opportunity to talk about your ambition and drive.

Related: How to Prepare for a Job Interview