By J. Gary McDaniel, TCV Growth Partner
No one is born brilliant at their job – not Warren Buffet, not Bill Gates, not Elon Musk, not Steve Jobs, and especially not me. Every successful person has been learning and working hard at their skills for a long time — taking advantage of professional development opportunities over the entirety of their career.
The professional world is becoming increasingly competitive and is constantly changing, so professional development and continual learning is more important than ever in being successful and achieving career goals. Technologies and best practices are evolving and progressing in every industry, making it crucial for both new and experienced professionals to continue developing their skills and honing their knowledge.
The practice also benefits employers and organizations by producing highly skilled and knowledgeable workers. According to Havard Business Review, 95 percent of employees would remain in a company that invests in employees’ career development.
Unfortunately, the truth is that many people aren’t investing in their career development. One-third of employees say they do nothing to upgrade or improve their current skill set. Many may be good at their jobs, but they’re either content with where they are or they just aren’t worried about their professional future.
This means that by taking advantage of professional development, continuing education, and planning for your career, you’ll already have a leg up on a third of your peers. Because you’re taking ownership of your career, you’re much more likely to achieve success and meet your goals.
In the long run, planning and executing a professional growth plan helps both the person and their career. The market’s ever-changing dynamics demand that workers ensure that their knowledge base stays updated.
Professional development is essential for:
· Improving one’s abilities in the workplace
· Upscaling qualifications
· Ensuring that your education is current
· Keeping abreast on industry trends
· Ascertaining that your skillsets are on par with others in a similar field
· Updating a resume
· Providing high-quality service to customers or clients
So what to do? Here are four ways to improve your professional development:
1. Create a schedule of goals.
To begin your professional development, create a list of goals and a schedule to complete them. Examples of some goals could include:
· Learning a new skill
· Completing a training program
· Attending conferences
· Reading a developmental book
2. Attend training programs.
You can attend training programs, such as webinars and seminars, conferences, or workshops to improve your professional development. By attending these kinds of programs, you can learn and experience new work-related skills.
3. Take on new roles or responsibilities.
You can also improve your professional development by taking on new roles or responsibilities in your position. Ask your manager if you can do some tasks that a different position normally does. Learning how to do new tasks and increasing your company knowledge contributes to your professional development and makes you a more valuable employee.
4. Continue your education
To improve your professional development, you could continue your education. You can achieve this by:
· Earning a certificate
· Earning a license
· Taking classes or programs
· Getting a higher degree
Further education improves your professional development because it increases your knowledge and it shows your dedication to your career. Having a higher level of education may also allow you to receive different job opportunities with new challenges and opportunities for growth.
Through professional development, you will increase both hard and soft skills within the workplace. Hard skills refer to job-specific knowledge that you receive through training or education, while soft skills are the personal habits that define how you work, such as communication. Developing your skills can help you become an expert in your field, share your knowledge with fellow employees, or discover new opportunities for career advancement. And, not only does professional development improve your skill set and knowledge, your company also benefits from your growth as an employee. A true win-win!