Personal career development essay

Professional development can help you advance in your career and may come in the form of formal learning, which includes coursework and internships or apprenticeships, or informal learning, which may include activities such as attending conferences and seminars or networking. Career counsellor and Assistant Director of the Wackerle Career and Leadership Centre Stephanie Kinkaid believes that everyone can benefit from the development of professional skills. It might include training sessions or graduate classes, spending time with a mentor to observe how others handle conflict or challenges, or mentoring someone else who might be new to the field," she says.

Sometimes, says Kinkaid, the learning process also occurs when employees are away from the workplace. Of course, how you choose to tackle your professional development depends on your personal career goals and preferred style of learning. Your industry, level of experience and position within a company should also factor into your professional development plan, as managers often need to tackle their professional development in a different way than employees would.

As an employee, much of your professional development will focus on setting personal professional goals and putting the training provided by your company to good use.

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Another different pursuit of development for managers, says Kinkaid, is the acquisition of skills related to managing, such as improving communication, teamwork and conflict management abilities. It can also be helpful for the entire team to attend personality assessment activities, as this allows both managers and employees to learn about the dynamics of the group.

But how exactly should you go about it? Here are a few ideas. Some companies provide opportunities for professional development as a way of improving employee retention, and taking advantage of these programs can help you continue to grow professionally while saving time and money. Author and career consultant Rich Grant notes that ideally, human resource departments would serve a function similar to that of college career services offices on campuses by helping employees find the right career fit.

Of course, money helps too, and companies should budget money for employees to take courses or specialised training and attend professional events. Find out if he or she would be willing to have you shadow them for a few hours a week in order to learn from their experience. Attending conferences or hands-on workshops will give you a chance learn about the latest developments in your field and keep your skills and knowledge up to date. It can also be a great way to meet and exchange ideas with other professionals in your industry.

Aside from allowing you to develop new skills for free, another big benefit of volunteering is the networking opportunities it will open up to you. Your success is not only dependent on what you know, but also who you know, and volunteering gives you the chance to widen your professional network and gain valuable references that will strengthen your resume. Technology has made networking easier than ever before, and online communities and platforms have become important tools for professional development.

Career development - Wikipedia

Look for courses that are relevant to your job and will help you build on your existing skills or perform your job more effectively. Alternatively, you may want to branch out and learn something completely new in order to showcase your versatility as an employee. Remember that the whole point of professional development is to continue learning and growing, so this should be your primary goal regardless of what you choose to study.


Career coach Hank Boyer notes that there are two kinds of professional growth; intentional growth and unintentional growth. Intentional professional growth should be started by clearly identifying your desired career destinations, says Boyer. Consider what professional roles and positions, job responsibilities, income levels, and other factors define your desired outcomes.

Do Your Career and Work Values Align?

To do this, Boyer suggests speaking with professionals who are currently in the roles and positions you want. You can also explore professional organisations associated with your areas of professional interest, says Boyer. Try reaching out and requesting informational interviews. To do this, Boyer suggests answering the following questions:.

What specific skills will I need to acquire to reach my goals, and how will I acquire and develop them? What new relationships will I need to form, and what current relationships do I need to more deeply develop? Opportunities may come in the form of education offered by an employer, professional or community organisation, or in the form of participation in volunteer organisations. Both of these are also great ways to expand your professional network.

If the answer is not apparent, consider not participating. The key is to remain flexible but fixed on the objective. He notes that performance evaluations can be a great source for feedback and advice when creating a professional development plan, as your supervisor or HR manager will have evaluated your performance and behaviour over a long period of time and can help you identify both your strengths and weaknesses.

Another thing he emphasises is the importance of scheduling time every month to review your progress, identify any areas of the plan that may need to be adjusted, and update the plan with any new opportunities that may have arisen. Planning and goal setting are certainly necessary if you want your professional development to pay off, but getting started is the most important and difficult step. A lot of your professional development will probably focus on strengthening your weaker areas, whether you need to become more organised or learn to communicate more effectively with certain members on your team.

But while this is certainly a sound strategy; developing skills or talents you already have and would like to learn more about or specialise in can make the process more enjoyable. Carefully tracking your progress will help you to determine whether the short and long-term goals you have set for yourself are realistic or whether you need to make adjustments. Professional development is to your career what maintenance is to your vehicle.

So here are a few important signs that it might be time to invest in your career. Industries and business practices are changing quicker than ever before, and this means some of the things you may have learned in school five or ten years ago may no longer be relevant or applicable. This type of self-directed learning will help you keep your knowledge current, and can even boost your confidence at work.

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Look around you. Are your colleagues being promoted and moving up through the ranks while you continue to perform the same tasks you were originally hired to do? Take out your resume and read it as critically as possible. Does it still accurately represent your current skill set and expertise? Would it convince a new employer that you possess the know-how to excel in your job?

Rather than throwing in the towel and looking for a different type of job, you should consider how you can work towards meeting those requirements. The best thing about focusing on your professional development is that it gives you a chance to think about your career goals. In order to identify and further develop these all-important soft skills, she suggests focusing on the skills you already have.

Do you stick to a task? Do you see the bigger picture so you can predict what tasks you could be doing next? Do you understand yourself well enough to be realistic about your strengths and weaknesses? Do you ask for help and input from others? The list is endless. A Career Builder survey of over hiring managers found that 77 percent believe soft skills are just as important as the hard skills necessary to perform specific job functions, and 16 percent even said they considered such qualities more important than hard skills.

Once you know where you need improvement, you can look for opportunities to strengthen these areas, whether that means volunteering in a different type of role or taking on more responsibility at work. In order to advance in your career you may need to develop, sharpen or update some of your industry-specific skills. Many places also offer post-graduate certificates to help you quickly add new skills.

If anything we now have too many options. There's no end to ways to continually learn and upgrade. The resultant report, Learning for Purpose, found that NFP organisations who invest in professional development for their people do better. For leaders of the NFP sector, professional development can take many forms, from attending conference sessions, undertaking systematic training and completing structured coursework to reading publications, mentoring and contributing to sector discussion.

Joan : Many individuals are very committed to their career development, but are time-poor due to working long hours and having busy lifestyles. In my experience, people are searching for just-in-time learning opportunities to update their skills; they are doing this through short accredited courses, webinars and professional development associations. Tina : The main skills I see that we need to develop for this are: thinking skills, communication, personal management, ethics and professionalism, teamwork, lifelong learning and self-direction, technology use and dealing with complexity and ambiguity.

Craig: Companies are increasingly looking to provide talented employees with cross-functional experience, through the likes of secondments, job rotations or placement in other functions, to round out their business experience. Self-directed learning through internal learning systems are also important, as people are able to share their knowledge internally such as recording videos, or responding on internal forums with other employees, and this content is accessed and rated by other employees who can benefit from the experiences of others.

Greg : The frequency of review depends on a number of factors. If professional development is a requirement of evidence of ongoing development, it's usually associated with a defined volume of hours over a given period say, one year. People in such roles are encouraged to review their plan at least quarterly. For the person reviewing their own career plan of which professional development such as academic qualifications is a part that review should be at least annually.