After a panel discussion about Career Growth and Transition hosted by Evelyn Askelrod, founder of Lean-In WIN (women in non-profits), I had a conversation with an attendee. She mentioned her struggle to find time to engage in her own professional development, as she was so “snowed under” at work. I told her that she shouldn’t be too hard on herself because at least she had committed a few hours to attend the event that day.
Conversations like these are common for many people, in and outside the career sphere. We have become so busy that we don’t leave margins in our lives for professional development. It’s not that we don’t want to; it’s because we haven’t deliberately carved out a set time for it. The late author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse.”
How PD can benefits CDPs
The world of work is constantly changing, and as career practitioners we need to stay one step ahead of these changes to better serve our clients and equip them to meet the demands of the new labour market. We also need to position ourselves for career growth outside the normal corporate trajectory where seniority usually determines how quickly one ascends the career ladder.
That said, some of us might not have any aspirations to climb the career ladder in the traditional sense, but we could be yearning for work-life balance and a flexible work schedule. Or, we might want to explore entrepreneurship. Regardless, as career practitioners, we need to recognize that these days the best job security is continuous professional development coupled with a willingness to adapt to change.
To enable us to compete in this new world, we should ask ourselves “What new skills can I learn that would make me more marketable? How can I remain relevant and competitive?” These questions are of particular significance given the fact that technological innovation is accelerating at a faster pace than we can imagine, and artificial intelligence is being touted as a job killer.
5 tips to help you position yourself for career growth and protect your future employability
Retool your skills for career resiliency. Find opportunities to update your skills or learn new ones. Prepare to expand your knowledge base and become more literate through formal and informal means. It is easier than ever to enroll in courses, attend seminars, read inspiring books and contribute to discussions that will educate and inform. Explore Alison, a global online learning community that offers free, high-quality resources to help develop essential, certified workplace skills. Try Coursera, an education platform that partners with top universities and organizations worldwide, to offer free and paid courses online for anyone to take. Visit Skills You Need, another platform that offers free courses on leadership, interpersonal and presentation skills, among others.
Engage in ‘second-skilling’. This is a concept made popular in Singapore, where employees have the option to develop their skills in a sector other than the one in which they work. For example, if you are an employment specialist in the non-profit sector, you could develop your skills in human resources, if that’s an area of interest to you. Or, if you would like to become a private career practitioner, you could start to develop entrepreneurship skills.
Learn the five-hour rule. Set aside one hour per day, from Monday to Friday, for deliberate learning. Benjamin Franklin, inventor, author and entrepreneur, consistently invested an hour a day, five days per week for this type of learning. Unable to commit to one hour at one sitting? Split the hour into 20-minute increments. This suggestion might sound ambitious, but it is the same strategy I used to write my first book. For years the idea to write a book lodged in my head. It wasn’t until I read Franklin’s story that I tested the logic. I committed to devoting at least one hour per day, during the work week, to work on the book. In six months, the book was completed.
Find an accountability partner. Connect with someone who believes in you and your goals, is committed to your success and will hold you accountable to what you say you will do.
Become fluent with social media. Social media is an equal opportunity platform and does not require a PhD to participate. This means anyone can use it to engage in conversations, demonstrate their expertise, build credibility and gain visibility. Don’t be left out, especially as online interactions are becoming as meaningful as in real life and digital skills are proving to be indispensable for employees at all levels.
At a time when the future of work will focus more on job skills rather than university degrees, we should be intentional about investing our time (even one hour per day) in our own professional development.