As an industry, we are in charge of planning professional development for others. But when it comes to our own professional development, many meeting industry professionals don’t understand the application to their own careers.
Let me backtrack to explain.
At several recent industry conferences, I have been asked to provide one-on-one résumé reviews. The process involves an in-depth evaluation of their career document, and consistently, I see one thing missing: Professional development.
I’ll then ask a simple question: “Where are you…right now?”
Blank looks. I repeat the question. Suddenly, the light bulb goes on.
Attending industry conferences, workshops, trainings, webinars, seminars, classes, corporate learning universities, industry certifications, thought leadership events…these all fall under professional development.
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You need to start to understand your own professional development as it relates to your ability to do your current job as well as position yourself favorably as the preferred candidate when looking for new employment.
Let’s face it: Employers hire subject matter experts. If you look at it from their perspective, they are trying to find the best-qualified person for the job. So you need to set forth on a path that shows, beyond a doubt, that you are the best-qualified person for the job.
Professional development doesn’t have to be the conference that the boss wants to send you to. Think about what types of specific professional development helps expand your skill sets, update current skills, and teach you new ideas and better ways to enhance your leadership quotient.
Focus on the following factors when choosing the right professional development opportunity for yourself.
- Do you have any skill gaps? (i.e. Are you consistently feeling that you are missing the boat because you don’t have the ability to do a certain thing?)
- Do you need to have a skill updated? Things are changing rapidly, particularly relating to technology: Are you up to speed?
- Thought leadership: How are you going to help push the company to meet the future? This doesn’t mean you have to be the head poo-bah; it’s about helping position the company to be competitive as the market evolves.
- Are you the best manager you can be? Learning different concepts on how to manage people, budgets, resources and deadlines can help you enhance your value to an organization.
After considering these factors, it’s best to add one or two different learning opportunities to your career repertoire each year—and drop off anything that is older than five-to-seven years ago, because it’s now (likely) obsolete.
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Being specific and taking the time to understand your own professional development has huge positive impacts on your career…whether with your current employer or a future one.
It’s time to plan ahead so you can get ahead!