As we start to mentally close out 2015, it might be a good time to think about what you did to improve yourself over the past calendar year. Did you participate in any webinars? Attend conferences? Join a roundtable discussion or lead a panel at a breakout session? If you’re active in our industry, you probably did at least one of these, if not more. So here are two pieces of advice: 1) Good for you for continuing to better yourself, and 2) I hope you’re tracking those educational efforts. Why? Because you need the credit. If not for actual CEUs to keep your credentials current, how about refreshing your resume? Learning comes in many forms. Traditional degrees are still important, but employers look at all avenues of education as valid reasons to hire you. Can you prepare a professional PowerPoint presentation? That skill that could make the difference between getting a job you want or having your resume moved to the “no” pile. Do you know Photoshop or any of the other graphic-enhancing skills that are out there? Look for work with Web developers who sometimes know basic formatting and what drives SEO but can’t deal with photo issues. Are you the queen of Excel spreadsheets? Master of Word docs? Skilled at setting up and moderate videoconferencing? Learning a new language? These are all valid skills that a prospective employer might value above your college degree in psychology. The point is this: It’s a good idea to keep learning new skills, but you must also keep track of these new tools and validate the time spent doing so. Even opportunities that come free of charge — virtual classes and discussions as well as webinars — add value to your professional presentation. So, document them. Before you start the mad dash to 2015’s finish line, take a few minutes to review any professional activities you participated in this year and make sure you have proof of completion. Here’s a short list that could be used to enhance your resume:
- Write an industry blog post, newsletter article or white paper.
- Participate as a panelist at an industry function.
- Lead a roundtable discussion on any industry-related topic.
- Learn a new computer skill.
- Attend an educational seminar in person or online.
- Serve on a work-related task force.
- Accept a leadership position in an accredited organization as an officer, board member or committee chair.
- Present as a guest lecturer or speaker at a university or event.
- Volunteer at a charity event.
The list of possibilities is endless, but don’t forget to retain proof of your participation. Any of these skills can help you in a job search or prove to your employer that you’re keeping up to date with industry practices and procedures. No one else will track the value of your progress in continuing education, so it’s up to you. Let the world know you’re more valuable this year than ever before.
Have you added skills not on our list? Do you have a strategy for keeping track of your continuing education? Please share in the comment box below. Thank you.