Why is professional development important
Congratulations! You’ve landed a new job, and everything is running smoothly. Time to sit back, relax, and enjoy a long and rewarding career. But wait! It’s not that easy.
These days, if you want to reach your full potential, you must proactively manage your career – from the day you enter the workforce until the day you retire.
Developing throughout your Career
To contribute at a high level throughout your career, you need to actively pursue personal and professional development opportunities. You can take various paths to reach your developmental goals, but the first step is to establish a personal development plan.
Establishing a Personal Development Plan
There are many points to consider when developing your personal development plan. Start by writing down your short-term and long-term career goals, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Where do you want to be in one, five, ten, and fifty years?
- What types of skills will you need to reach your goals?
- What knowledge will you need to acquire?
- What talents will you need to develop?
From here, you can start creating your personal development plan and set out the ways to achieve these goals. Understanding what you are going to need in the future will help you to begin developing yourself into that person today.
The next step is to look at the gaps in your personal development plan, as these are your focus areas. Here are a few ways you can fill these gaps and manage your career development:
One of the most important keys to personal and professional development is networking. Why? Firstly, professional connections can be especially useful for staying on top of industry trends and developments. These are the things that are going to affect you and your career progression. It’s difficult for you to stay on top of everything that will affect your career, but by having a network that you can depend on, you’ll be able to stay on top of the information that affects you.
Secondly, the days of working for a single employer throughout one’s career are over. Nowadays, most people are very comfortable with the fact that they are going to work for several employers throughout their career. This is partially since career development in its truest sense is about seeking out new challenges. You may find that at some point, your current job is no longer challenging or satisfying, especially if you have been in the same role for a couple of years. If your employer is unwilling or unable to adapt your role to bring out new challenges, it may be time to begin exploring new opportunities outside of your organisation.
If you have built up a network of like-minded professionals, you will have an easier time finding a new role that will help you to pursue your personal developmental goals. If you have a strong network, you may find that job offers come to you without having to seek them out!
The need for training doesn’t stop when you graduate. You need to constantly be seeking out different training opportunities. This will help keep your skills current, ensuring that you can continue to make valuable contributions to your company and your team throughout your career.
Start by making it clear to your manager and team that you’re eager to learn. Let them know you would appreciate any learning opportunities they can offer. You can also make the most of your company’s own internal training opportunities. They may provide free training courses that you can use to upskill with. If you want to learn something more specific that your company doesn’t offer, then don’t be afraid to ask for it. Being seen by others at your company as a lifelong learner is a good thing!
Many successful people throughout history are quick to thank their mentors – people who guided their development during their formative years. You too should have mentors that can guide you throughout your career. A good mentor can be from any industry, in any job function, and at any point in their career. Align with someone that can be a true role model and can positively influence your own growth and development.
As you progress in your career, you may find that you need more “clout” to take on greater responsibility, and to drive bigger and better business results. It may be time for you to take out membership in a professional association. By seeking out membership in one of these associations, you become instantly more credible and can improve the way that stakeholders perceive you. If you’re looking to take this to the next level, consider volunteering in a professional association. Offer to plan and run an event that is of interest to the group or pursue a leadership position within the association.
Your career is in your hands
Depending on who you are and your specific developmental goals, you may pursue all, some, or none of the suggestions above. The point is: the responsibility of your career and professional development is in your own hands.