University was just the start, time to develop your career!
I know what you are thinking, it’s all over. I will never have to look at a textbook or sit another exam. Unfortunately I have to be the bearer of bad news, it’s only the beginning. Yes you heard me right, it is not over.
I’ll give you a couple of seconds to take that all in… but fear not, quickly wipe those tears away; I promise the benefits of continued professional development/learning massively outweigh the negatives! The truth is, if you want to be anything like Ron Burgundy (and why wouldn’t you?!), an individual that has it all: money, a life of luxury and most importantly – Salon quality hair, then you will have to embrace learning and continue to develop professionally in order to progress in both your life and career (very deep I know).
Now, you may be wondering what ‘professional development’ actually entails. In that case have a read of this article by jobs.ac.uk where it states some of the benefits of ‘CPD’ (Continuous professional development) whilst in the workplace.
Not interested in reading that article? Well, for all of you that are short of time, I have listed a selection of reasons as to why you should be proactive when it comes to Professional development, and you never know – maybe one day you will be in a similar position to Ron Burgundy (I can’t promise that you will be able to annihilate the jazz flute though!):
You will be more employable
Whether it’s you, your colleague, your boss, your boss’s boss, your boss’s boss’s boss (I think you get the point), in the grand scheme of things we all are just insignificant parts of the UK job market.
In reality there are hundreds if not thousands of individuals in similar positions to you with similar levels of experience, potentially even applying for similar positions. You need to ensure that you build upon your current job and to put it bluntly, you need to do everything within your power to put yourself at the top of employers list of potential employees.
It will be encouraged by your employer
Most employers, particularly larger organisations, often take pride in providing excellent development opportunities to their staff, and actively promote this aspect of their company. This is often a measure used within the annual lists highlighting the ‘top companies to work for’ (such as this one produced by The Times). Not only do they benefit directly from a workforce with an increased level of skill, but it also aids the image of the company so they can continue to recruit the best candidates possible. This is not just a feature of larger employers, often by working in SMEs (Small and Medium sized enterprises) your remit will be varied as they may not have the resources to have individualised specialist departments. This will also aid with your professional development. Have a look out for internal and external courses or qualifications offered by your employer. If lucky, you may even find that some of these are partially/completely subsidised, which if relevant, is something to seriously consider.
Prospective employers will be looking for examples
The chances are that your future employer will expect you to be actively involved in professional development and can demonstrate signs of progression within previous positions. This may come as part of the ‘skills required’ section, usually listed within a person specification.
Here are a few of examples I have found after spending a couple of minutes searching for jobs online. Both of these institutions express a desire to recruit candidates that have a positive outlook towards professional development.
Now, if I was an employer wanting to recruit someone with the motivation to undertake training courses and to develop new skills – I would be looking for individuals with a demonstrable track record of doing so.
Variety is the spice of life!
We have all been there, spending all day doing the same boring things, and ultimately feeling like you are stuck in a seemingly never-ending rut. The sooner that you adopt the mind-set that progression is good, you can begin learning new skills that will not only keep your job interesting, but you may discover new areas of interest that you can choose to follow.
Ultimately in life if you put the effort in, more times than not you will find yourself reaping the rewards, this is the same for your career. Nevertheless, it is important that you are developing in areas that are relevant to the career path that you intend to take. After all, would it be beneficial for a graduate to spend a lot of time and money undertaking a project management course such as Prince 2, when they are likely never to require it in the future? Chances are no. But it is certain that there are areas that you can look at.
If you would like to read more about professional development, this is a really good post by Guardian Careers.