Guest post from The Economy Mom
Even if you’re content where you’re at in your career or feel confident about your professional skills and abilities, there are many reasons to continue your education, expand your skill set, and use this newfound knowledge to further your career. Professional development can also help you to overcome and identify any potential areas of weakness, such as communication, time management, and giving or receiving feedback.
This is why leading companies like Abbott and Mastercard invest in professional development programs for their workers: they understand the value continuous education provides both the employer and employee. Plus, it’s never too early or late in your career to focus on professional development, and there’s always something new to learn or expand on. Check out this guide from TV Tray Desk to learn how to create a professional development plan of your own.
Assess Your Skills, Strengths and Weaknesses
As we touched on already, professional development can be a great way to identify and overcome any areas of improvement in your career. These areas of improvement could be the skills, abilities, or qualities used in your current position, or the ones you’ll need to land a promotion or negotiate a pay raise. You might also need to overcome any areas of weakness if you’re changing careers or planning on starting your own business.
Assessing your skill set is a big part of creating a professional development plan and a crucial step you won’t want to skip. After all, you need to know which skills you’re lacking and what you can improve on!
It’s also important, however, to identify the knowledge and skills you do possess — including any transferable skills. If you need help identifying your strengths and weaknesses, try gathering feedback from current and former managers, mentors, and colleagues.
Set Some SMART Goals
After assessing your skill set and gathering feedback from peers, you’ll be ready to set a few professional development goals. Achieving these goals will help you to learn new skills and knowledge, improve on any areas of weakness, and further your career.
When setting professional development goals, make sure they’re specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely (also known as SMART). You might also want to structure these goals into three different categories: short-term goals to achieve within a year, mid-term goals to achieve within a year or two, and long-term goals to achieve within the next three to five years. Lots of free online templates are available to help you plan and track these goals and measure your progress.
Develop Your Professional Development Strategy
Once you’ve set your short, mid-term, and long-term goals, it’ll be time to develop your professional development strategy. What steps will you take to improve your skill set, gain new knowledge, and overcome areas of weakness? Some examples might include:
- Working with a career mentor.
- Enrolling in a college degree program.
- Obtaining a professional license or certification.
- Joining one or more professional organizations in your industry.
- Volunteering in your community.
- Reading relevant books and magazines.
- Listening to career-boosting podcasts.
Find the Right Degree or Professional Certification Program
Now that you’ve developed your professional development strategy, it’s time to identify the various resources you’ll use to achieve your career goals. These resources could be professional associations, eLearning platforms, or online colleges and universities that offer degree programs in your area of interest.
Depending on the types of skills you’re looking to develop or improve on, you can earn just about any degree online in areas such as business, information technology, or health administration. Or consider this option to advance your career in education while continuing to work full-time. Earning an online education degree will improve your teaching skills and further your knowledge of topics such as learner development and instructional practice. Plus, financial aid, scholarships, and employer tuition discounts are available.
From earning an online degree to obtaining professional certification in your industry, there are so many different ways to achieve your professional development goals. The important thing is that you start with a good plan, measure your progress, and keep looking for new ways to continue your education as time goes on and you move up the career ladder.
TV Tray Desk is a lifestyle blog dedicated to all things remote work. Visit tvtraydesk.com to find remote work tips, printable planners to organize each day, and more!