In an unsettling job market, professional development is critical to boosting your resume and becoming more marketable. Look at it as building your personal brand; give your potential employer a reason to want you around, trust that you have a lot to offer, and see you as a valuable asset to their team. Professional development shows that you’ve taken time to hone your skills and focus in on areas that are critical to your career success.
“The concept behind professional development is the idea that you have untapped potential, and to not settle with what you have if you want more out of life. [It’s] a process of continually progressing and refining your character and qualities as a parent, a teacher, a secretary, a doctor, a lawyer- as whatever or whoever you are.” – The Importance of Professional Development
You professional development tactics will differ from the person waiting for an interview next to you. It will depend upon your career niche, personal preference and free time. However, there are three basic places to focus in on – education, volunteer work, personal learning.
Now that you’re out of school, it’s easy to throw books to the wayside and see your educational career as officially over. However, no matter what field you’re in, it’s important to be learning new techniques and keeping up with the ever-changing technologies. Luckily, you don’t have to “go back to school” to do that.
• Udemy.com: This is an online learning community, offering mostly free courses, which range from personal health to web design. It’s is an easy way to polish your current education or gain a new skill.
• Online courses: Taking an online course here and there, from an accredited university or community college is a smart way to stay involved.
Sometimes, you won’t always get paid to further your career. There may be years of free work ahead of you before you settle into your cushy paid job. Thus, volunteering is a great way to gain valuable experience, while looking good to potential employers.
• Where you volunteer will depend upon what field you’re in. Writer? Do guest posting for authoritative sites. Want to be a teacher? Volunteer as a chaperone or organize a book drive for the local school.
Personal learning is critical to showing a potential employer that you are able to take on new tasks and exceed expectations. Showing that you’ve set apart time from your regular schedule to take on personal interests proves that you are dedicated to yourself and your work. Some ideas to consider:
• Start a blog: Build it from the ground up. In the end, you’ll have a product that clearly displays your learning and dedication.
• Subscribe to magazines: A great way to learn? Reading. Subscribe to a couple magazines in your field, and take in every article. This gives you conversation topics in an interview and will expand your knowledge base.
• Informational interview: Contact a company you’d love to work for to have an informational interview. This is a chance to pick someone’s brain: what do they look for in their new hires? What can you do better? What is that niche looking for right now? Simply being interested and not asking for a job can lead to opportunities down the line.
Maintaining your professional development is an excellent way to stay competitive in an overpopulated world of unemployed workers. This will enhance your value and prove that you have the drive and determination to learn and maintain your professional skills.
Bio: Jessica Sanders is an avid small business writer touching on topics from social media to background checks. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including payroll processing for lead generation resource, Resource Nation.