How to Take Charge of Your Professional Development

Demonstrating that you have invested in your professional development, whether formally or informally, will pay dividends in planning your future, and is one way of showing potential employers that you’re really committed to being a top performer.

Mike Collins, Head of Learning Solutions at DPG plc describes five things that you can do to invest in your future career.

Understand your strengths and weaknesses

Interviewers often ask candidates about their strengths and weaknesses. Wouldn’t it be great if you could show not only why you’re great at leading a team, but that you understand your weaknesses and have taken steps to address them?

Consider investing in a management assessment survey to objectively identify your competencies, highlight your strengths and identify gaps in your knowledge and experience, giving you the basis of your future training needs. The best assessments like MAP 2.0 benchmark you against other managers in similar roles, which really lets you see where you need to focus to stand out in the crowd and give yourself the best chance of landing the best job.

Plan your CPD

Continuing Professional Development means taking charge of your own learning and preparing for the future. Think about where you are, where you want to be and what you need to do to get there.

The CIPD recommends keeping a formal CPD record, which you update regularly and review annually, reflecting on what you’ve learned and what you need to learn to plan for your next move. Map out both formal and informal learning opportunities, and most importantly evaluate what you’ve learned and how it will impact on how you will work in the future.

Look into professional qualifications

Would having a professional qualification give you the edge over other candidates for future jobs or promotions? Many professional qualifications can be undertaken part-time by distance learning.

Ok, so it means that you’ll have to use some of your evenings and weekends to study, but the results will almost certainly be worth it as you should be able to command a higher salary, and are likely to be promoted to the next level more quickly.

Learn for free

Whatever you want to learn, there’s probably a free resource that you can tap into to get you started.

Google ‘free courses online’, and you’ll get more than half a million links to courses that are available online, by distance learning and in the classroom. The Open University alone offers more than 600 free courses requiring a commitment of anything from just four hours to 50+ hours, which would be great for filling in some of the skills gaps you’ve identified in your management assessment survey.

Use social media

Whatever field you’re in, or whatever you’re specialism, there will be an online community where you can contribute to discussions, give advice and network online with others with similar professional interests.

Do some research to find out who the most influential bloggers and tweeters are in your sector. Don’t just read their posts, but make time to follow the links that they signpost to help you up to keep up to date with the latest thinking.

Look for a mentor

Many professional and business organisations run mentoring schemes. Find out what’s available in your local area, or if you can’t find anyone suitable locally, many mentors are willing to use Skype to liaise with mentees.

Or take it a step further – think about some of the business people you most admire (keep it realistic – Richard Branson probably won’t have time!) and approach them to ask if they’d be interested in mentoring you. Lots of senior people want to give something back, and mentors often get as much out of a mentoring relationship as the mentees.

You can see the original article here.