Since your goal is to continue to progress and succeed, Professional Development serves both you and your employer. You must establish the goals and the allotment of time early in your tenure in your new job. Some employers have formal guidelines for the amount of time or dollars to be spent on professional development. Many do not.
You need to invest 10-20 percent of your time, per year, in professional development. That would be five weeks out of the entire year. This may seem like a lot but it does not have to be five weeks of classroom or seminar time, taken away from the job. Professional Development encompasses all activities that increase your competence and value in your job, career, profession, and industry.
Here are some Professional Development activities that you should plan during your employment with each job or organization:
Community college, college, or university courses. These are available at all times of day, and many are offered electronically over the Internet or through self-paced materials.
Independent seminars and courses in your professional or industry area. There are many companies that provide outstanding seminars and courses in your area. Whether it is Project Management or Flower Arranging, you will be able to find Professional Development training and education.
Join professional associations. Being a member of an association will give you access to information, education, and people. Attending regular meetings, participate in the organization, contribute articles or other materials for their publications. Most professional associations put on annual (or more frequent) educational events – you should take advantage of these opportunities.
Subscribe to publications. For every job, there is at least one publication that either is specific to that job or provides information and resources that are of value to that job. Seek these out and subscribe to and read at least one on a regular basis.
In all cases, identify what subjects and skills are of most value to your employer and to you. Set specific goal, and what the results will be when you achieve those goals. Determine whether there are certifications that you can achieve as a result of taking courses and seminars and the value of those certifications. Consult with your co-workers and your manager(s) to determine which they perceive as having the most value.
As we will discuss below, work/life balance is of great importance to you. Even for an extreme workaholic, distinguishing between work time and personal time is critical.
When you are at work, be at work. Minimize the personal interruptions and distractions. While personal issues are inevitable, work hard to keep them insulated and isolated. They should not intrude on your work or affect your co-workers, subordinates, or superiors unless unavoidable.
Make and receive phone calls when they will not interfere with or intrude on critical work time or meetings.
Try to schedule medical appointments, parental duties, and other personal tasks well in advance, and make sure that all affected parties are aware.
If you have regular responsibilities or commitments to personal activities, clarify these with your manager and co-workers up front.
There are two things you must do to ensure the continuation of your career strategy:
- Keep your resume up to date.
- Maintain contact with a coach.
Assuming your present job is one more step along your career path, even if you plan to stay here for twenty years, it is essential that you keep your plan in mind and take the steps to keep progressing. Your resume is the record of your jobs, responsibilities, and accomplishments. As you change jobs, are given additional or different responsibilities, and achieve new accomplishments, record them in your resume. Do not worry about keeping it beautifully formatted at all times. Do worry about keeping track of this information.
While you are keeping your resume up to date, touch base with your coach at least twice per year. This does not mean that you are actively searching for a job. A coach is not a recruiter. Your coach‘s job is to counsel you all along the way. Use your coach to help you make decisions about changes in responsibility or position within the same organization. Discuss the progress you are making against your strategy, the professional development choices you have, challenging situations at work, and any other matter that is related to your career as it progresses. That is what they are there for.