CONGRATULATIONS, YOU'VE landed your dream job. Pat yourself on the back and enjoy the rewards of your hard work. But do not relax too much. In order to keep your career on track you will soon need to think about reaching your next goal. The good news is that most jobs offer unlimited opportunities to develop the skills, knowledge and relationships you will need to succeed in the future. These opportunities might not always be obvious, but they are there. It is simply a matter of finding them. Here are some tips for getting the most value from your job: Seek the support of your manager who is the gatekeeper to your future. He or she can enthusiastically support your development by delegating tasks, ensuring key projects come your way and authorising your requests to attend training courses. Equally, and more frustratingly, your manager can block your progress. To get a manager on your side, start by building a trusting relationship. Deliver what you promised in the time agreed. Show a consistently positive attitude and never engage in gossip. Take time to build rapport and allow your manager to get to know you on a more personal level. You should also aim to create a positive impression with other senior decision makers in the organisation. Your manager will find it easier to justify investment in your development if others see you as a valuable resource. With an open and trusting understanding in place, you can start to negotiate opportunities to develop the skills you will need in the future. To gain your manager's support and involvement, you must emphasise the ways in which your personal development will have a positive impact on your department and the business. Start by outlining your achievements and the impact you have made to date. Then focus on how the development of new skills will add further value. Also, re-evaluate your development needs. As you gain experience on the job you will learn more about what you need to succeed. You should observe more experienced colleagues and realise which skills they possess that you have not even considered. You may get comments from your manager and colleagues. Welcome this feedback and act on it, because it will give a clear view of your strengths and weaknesses and help in prioritising development activities. For instance, you might enjoy selling and therefore think you are good at it, but your manager might highlight the need for you to improve your ability to close a deal. Identify on-the-job opportunities for learning. Think of every assignment as a way to pick up something new and seek ways to get the most value from each experience. When given a task, focus on delivering more than expected, and collaborate with experienced colleagues who can teach you how to approach things more professionally. It is surprising how little we learn if we stick to the confines of our job descriptions. So look for opportunities to get involved in something new, volunteer for special projects, ask for new responsibilities, or offer to help others with their duties. Look for ways to take the pressure off your manager. For example, if he or she is struggling to find the time to hire new staff and you are keen to develop recruitment skills, why not offer to screen resumes or do telephone interviews. Employee volunteering programmes also offer valuable development opportunities. For instance, staff at Credit Suisse First Boston participated in a Race for Mentors programme last year, offering assistance to minority children at a Hong Kong school. While the children developed career skills, the staff also benefited, reporting an improvement in their interpersonal, listening and communication skills, and improved relationships with their colleagues. If your company does not run a volunteer programme, offer to help set one up. You will have the chance to develop on a personal and professional level, while bringing benefits to your business and the community it operates in. Of course, your company will probably offer a range of other formal development tools to help you progress. Talk to your manager and the human resources department about your goals and the options available. If they do not know what you need, they will not be able to help. When developing foundation technical skills, such as in budgeting, sales and performance management, the best resources are often in-house courses, computer-based training, or company sponsored external workshops. You can also ask to 'work shadow' people in the organisation who are considered technical experts. To develop specific functional knowledge such as in marketing, human resources management or IT management, consider completing a postgraduate diploma or a master's degree. While these can be expensive, do not be put off. If you can prove how you can apply your knowledge to benefit the business, your employer may be willing to pay some or all of the costs involved. Do not let new skills and knowledge go to waste. Involve your manager in your development and talk about what you have learned. Then ask for opportunities to put your new skills into practice. Your manager may be willing to delegate certain tasks so that you can gain experience. Mentors and coaches can also help in applying new skills. Ask what is available in the company and commit to working with a mentor or coach on a regular basis. Alternatively, if company resources are limited, why not engage the services of a life coach who will help you to focus on development goals and provide an opportunity to reflect on what you have learned so far? Career Survival Tip #10 Continuously look for on-the- job development opportunities. People who take matters into their own hands progress much faster than those who sit back and wait for their employer to act.