7 revealing signs of career growth you need to know

Jun 6, 2024

How often do YOU pay attention to your career growth and development?

Research shows employees want access to advancement opportunities at work. In fact, Gallup has linked record rates of disengagement to a lack of career development. Meanwhile, McKinsey found it’s one of the top three reasons people quit their jobs.

After working with hundreds of leaders, here’s what I’ve noticed. You think about your development when you’ve got a big career goal in mind — say, a promotion. Or if you’re feeling unhappy, unfulfilled or confused about what to do next in your career.

In the workplace, career development is often tacked on to the end of a performance discussion. Yet there’s no meaningful conversation around your career aspirations or growth areas. And many times, professional development isn’t tailored to the individual — it’s delivered at an organisational level or via industry CPD programs.

Many organisations are now encouraging regular career and development conversations between staff and leaders. But for these discussions to be successful, they need to be employee led. Which means YOU must be clear on your career goals and the development areas you need to work on to reach them.

It’s also important to track your growth and progress on an ongoing basis. Still when work (and life) gets busy, your attention shifts to short-term priorities. You can easily forget your long-term goals, where you were six months ago and how much you’ve grown.

So how can you tell if you’re developing in your current position?

Here are 7 subtle signs you’ve grown in your role — even if you think you haven’t!


Clarity is the first indicator of growth in your career. It can be easy to get caught up in your daily tasks or short-term goals and overlook what you want long-term. But to keep developing, you need to know how your current role fits into the bigger picture of what you want.

Understanding exactly what you’re working towards and why is a sign you’re growing. Because you see your existing position as a stepping-stone towards your larger, long-term goals. The bottom-line is when you are clear on what you want, you will advance your career.


The second signal is you’re taking ownership of your career. Once you have clarity on what you want, it’s important to share your career goals and aspirations with your leader. Otherwise, you’ll let external circumstances (or other people) dictate your career trajectory.

Here are some clues you’re taking responsibility for your progression.

First, you’re asking for feedback, identifying your own development areas and finding ways to address them. Second, you’re working with your manager to create a plan to reach your goals. And finally, you’re taking action on a regular basis to put in place your career plan.

Investing in long-term relationships and strategically building your network is also critical. This includes regular catch-ups with your leader, team, peers and mentors. Plus, having ongoing career conversations with connections doing work which interests you.

Because when you are proactive, you will progress in your position.


Another sign of growth is when you stop doubting yourself or worrying about your weaknesses. You’ll still have development areas you’re working on to become even better at what you do. But the difference is, you’re spending less time focusing on what you believe you lack.

Instead, you’re embracing your strengths as much as possible in your current role. Then, choosing to outsource your weaknesses. By delegating tasks to a colleague who has strengths in areas where you don’t.

A client made a commitment to leverage her strengths, rather than trying to ‘fix’ her weaknesses. She reflected how this has reduced imposter syndrome and completely boosted her self-belief. Now she owns her achievements and can articulate her unique value with confidence!

Because when you start to leverage your strengths, you will experience rapid growth.


Cultivating confidence is one of the biggest clues you’re developing in your current job.

Are you naturally doing the things you used to fear, put off or avoid? Whether it’s putting your hand up to lead a new project, backing yourself for a promotion or speaking up in meetings. You’re now doing these activities automatically — or with more ease.

Confidence is the result of courage. By facing your fears and doing what makes you uncomfortable, the more growth you’ll experience.

One client struggled to share her point of view in meetings because she worried her ideas would be wrong or imperfect. Perfectionism also held her back from applying for internal opportunities or getting her work completed on time. After realising what it cost her, she began saying yes to the things which made her uncomfortable.

The impact? She’s received more opportunities to develop her skills and advance her career. And she no longer views mistakes as failure — but a chance to learn and grow!

Because when you have the courage to face your fears, you will cultivate more confidence.


Another indicator of growth is when you’re finding yourself doing things on autopilot. At the level of conscious competence, you need to carefully think through each step you take. But with repetition, this process begins to happen unconsciously.

And because this growth occurs gradually over time, you may not even be aware of it!

Do you often lose track of time when completing your work tasks or feel like you’re in ‘flow’? Or you’re working efficiently, which is positively impacting your performance and results too. These are all signs of growth — and show you’re doing work aligned to your strengths, values and what you most enjoy.

When you become a master at what you do, you will get more done, in less time.


Receiving recognition is clear evidence you’ve grown in your position. Your work and accomplishments are being noticed by others. You’re receiving positive feedback from your boss, nominations for industry awards or accolades at work.

Or you’ve become the ‘go-to’ expert in your area. You’re noticing your colleagues are always asking you for help or clients reach out with questions. When you’re acknowledged for your work, you will know you’ve grown in your role!


The final sign of growth is you’re ready for a new challenge. But this doesn’t always mean you need (or want) to find a new job. You may wish to take on more responsibility or a new project in your present position.

Or you could have the desire to develop a different skill or deepen your knowledge in your existing area of expertise. When you’re ready to be stretched in your current role, it’s a clear sign of growth!

So there you have it. The 7 sometimes not-so-obvious signs you’ve grown in your role. My hope is this inspires you to review your long-term priorities and celebrate your progress — now and on a regular basis!

Want help to identify your career goals, growth areas and to create a plan to reach them?

Click HERE to book a free 30 minute consult to find out how coaching with me can support you!

Stacey Back is a Career Strategist, Leadership Coach + Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achievers at a career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms. Stacey works virtually with individuals and organisations based across the globe.