Benefits of Professional Development

Professional development benefits both employers and employees. Any time you consider your career or company goals, remember that skills enhancement can affect a person's future at a multitude of levels.

Prior to Versus During Employment

It's crucial to time your professional development pursuits correctly. Having the right training at the right time can mean the difference between landing your first dream job, or earning that promotion, and finding yourself out of work because you haven't kept up with the skills-enhancing opportunities your employer desires. The question remains, though: What career-enhancing opportunities should you pursue and when?

Before Employment

College and other skills training provide considerable opportunity for professional development, which can be crucial to qualifying for a job after graduation. By attending school, you learn how to work with others, cultivate critical-thinking and problem-solving abilities, and foster the communication skills employers want to see in the workplace. The level of your training before you seek employment can also affect the type of job you will be able to start with upon entering the workforce and how much time you might have to spend moving through the ranks.

During Employment

Continuing your professional development requires a time (and sometimes financial) commitment. Nevertheless, it should not be neglected. Individuals who have lost their jobs have admitted they had not always been diligent about furthering their personal and professional skills. They had become dispensable to their bosses and sometimes found it difficult to get back into the job market later.

Benefits of Professional Development

What Should You Do?

Sometimes, you'll participate in professional development training at the request of your employer. Don't hesitate, though, to seize any other opportunities to improve your skills when you find a training course or other learning possibility that interests you. Keep an open mind as you contemplate how to broaden your skill sets. Mentoring relationships allow you to work with someone who has already achieved goals similar to yours so you can understand how that person achieved his or her current level of success. Finding a coach can also give you that one-on-one relationship and insight needed to improve your abilities. If your time and budget are restricted, think about locating seminars and webinars in areas you want to study.

It's Personal

In a blog entry about professional development for teachers, Alfred Thompson explained that the right time for furthering skills will differ from person to person. 'The answer is obvious of course, 'Thompson stated, 'well, except that, for different people, different answers are the obvious ones.'

Improving Skills

We learn new skills for our careers and become better at them with professional development opportunities and practice. And, in today's fast-paced business world, keeping your skill set current is especially crucial to make your job safety net a little wider. Don't ignore the benefits professional development can offer.

When deciding whether to hire a job candidate with little experience or one with a few years of experience, employers often consider some common areas among applicants. Oral and written communication skills, leadership abilities, technological knowledge, team-building knowledge, and product management skills are just a few attributes hiring teams try to find, Kiran Madan of Intex Technologies wrote for MSN Business News.

'Promotions and positions rarely fall into your lap,' Madan explained. If you want to improve your circumstances, remember 'to dedicate yourself to improving your professional and technical skills to be successful.' As you take charge of the skills you want to improve, remember a few things.

  • Think Big Think outside the realm of what might be offered where you currently work. For instance, if no leadership positions are open at your place of employment, you could do volunteer work and fill leadership roles in your community. Not only will you be gaining skills you can use at a professional level, but volunteerism often brings a measure of personal satisfaction, too.
  • Be Savvy Also, concentrate on keeping your technical skills relevant; this can help you obtain new positions and opportunities. Employers want to know that a job candidate or current employee is able to handle information, be inquisitive, and conduct his or her own research to find answers to problems and questions.
  • Look at Yourself Seek professional development opportunities that will help you cultivate other important skills on the job (and in life), such as managing time well, being committed to a task from start to finish, and finding the initiative to handle an issue yourself if necessary.

You can learn these skills and others through a variety of ways, whether taking a class, participating in an online forum, volunteering to work with someone you know who can teach you these skills, or even dedicating yourself to reading prominent literature in your field. Take the time to continue improving your professional skills. You will improve your career as you do.

Higher Earning Potential

Your earning potential will be determined by an assortment of factors, but your commitment to professional development and enhancement of your skills will certainly be one of them. Employers generally consider what a particular position is worth to them and tend to adjust wages accordingly as they review a worker's abilities. As you increase your value to an employer, you will boost the prospects of earning a higher salary as well.

When you think about your future, keep your plans in the proper perspective. 'You don't necessarily have to land a promotion to start earning more,' The Boston Globe explained. 'Showcasing your talents, and acquiring a few more, will leverage your worth and allow you to move up the career ladder.' Your education is important. Don't allow yourself to fall behind, Bankrate.com has cautioned. Find the time to keep yourself knowledgeable about changes in your industry. You can also become a resident expert in your company. If there is a knowledge gap where you work, take the initiative to study that area yourself.

Formal education also helps. 'The match between your education and what's normally required for your job usually affects your pay,' Salary.com explained. The quality of your training is also important, as this also can influence your earning potential. Any certifications you attain during your professional development process can also result in a bigger paycheck. You may benefit even more if you take the time to earn a certification that isn't necessarily required in your field but is viewed as a definite benefit.

Be forward thinking in your career possibilities, Bankrate.com has encouraged. Most people change jobs and industries more than once in their careers. With this in mind, always be contemplating new skills you might need to acquire if occupational changes could be on your horizon' even if they are a year or two away' so you can continue to protect your earning potential.

Wider Range of Promotion Possibilities

If you want to keep your career moving up the ladder, you will have to do some serious work. Not only will your job performance be vital, but you will need to earn your way to better positions by committing yourself to continuous learning. Professional development is a proven way to help yourself earn a job promotion.

Promotions require planning, Ford Myers, a career coach, told MarketWatch. 'It's not random,' he explained. 'You create an environment in which you increase your chances dramatically.' New knowledge will be vital to earning a promotion. Follow industry trends, and put yourself in a position to learn more about what is going on in your field. You want your résumé to show that you have the skills you need for the job you desire.

Building your knowledge base shows another skill, PBS has noted: a willingness and ability to 'adjust and be multifaceted.' Your boss will appreciate your ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

Think beyond job-specific knowledge, too. Much like when you are interviewing for a new job, your employer wants to know what abilities you could bring to an increased role in the workplace. Sharpen your people skills, or take professional development courses that can help you do so.

Communication skills always matter. Executive recruiter Kathryn Ullrich wrote for the TechRepublic blog, 'Communication skills can make or break careers.' If you need to improve your listening, presentation, or persuasion skills, for instance, consider taking a class that will help grow your knowledge in the desired area.

As PBS noted, 'Never become complacent with what you know.' Continue pursuing professional development opportunities to show your worth to your company and be recognized.

Enhance Possible Job Opportunities

If you are looking for your first big job or wondering what it might take to bring your career to a different level, expanding your education and training will help give you that edge you are hoping for. Professional development can greatly enhance your possible job opportunities. Understanding a little more about how your knowledge base can affect your job situation is beneficial as you continue to plan your professional future.

Your education affects everything from the type of job you will be able to secure to your potential salary. At times when jobs are scarce, well-trained individuals are the ones securing coveted jobs. Carefully assess the education and skills you have. You may need to start at the beginning and earn your high school diploma if you haven't already done so. Move on to higher levels of education by considering earning an associate's or bachelor's degree or participating in a certificate program of some sort. If you already have a degree, see whether you can earn any certifications or other credentials that are beneficial to possess in your industry.

How Your Employer Feels

Wages and labor supply are directly related, according to Investopedia. If there is a shortage of labor, employers tend to pay more in wages to attract qualified employees. A surplus of workers, however, means employers might not pay as much. If it is relatively easy for workers to enter a particular industry, not only could you have trouble getting a job, but you might not receive the wage you desire. Conversely, an industry that requires more of its workers in terms of education tends to pay better; employers understand that additional education can be expensive.

'Employers want workers who are more productive and require less management. Better-trained workers tend to be more productive than those who are untrained,' Investopedia has explained. The more you have done to make yourself as qualified a candidate as possible, the more you will appeal to a prospective employer or appear as a good candidate for career advancement.

From the employer standpoint, providing additional training for workers can increase job satisfaction and morale among the workforce, as well as spur an employee's motivation to perform his or her job well. Financial gains are also another reason to consider helping workers boost their skill sets; well-trained employees can be more efficient and able to adapt to new technologies and procedures in the workplace. The Free Management Library Web site notes that employers have also cited reduced employee turnover, improved company image, and better risk management as benefits of professional development.

If you are contemplating professional development in terms of your own career goals, furthering your training is also a worthwhile means of enhancing your job possibilities and value to employers. 'Continuing your education is one of the most important investments you can make,' Kaplan Continuing Education has explained. 'From greater independence and flexibility to financial security' more education means more opportunity.' In fact, the United States Department of Education has reported that approximately 44 percent of American adults are participating in some type of continuing education, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Deciding whether you should join the people furthering their skills will require a careful look at your personal circumstances.

Henry Merrill, an associate professor emeritus at Indiana University and president of the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, says to consider seriously your motives for completing additional training. Are you contemplating school for personal or professional reasons? You can increase your marketability by boosting your knowledge base. As an added benefit, completing a higher learning course can help strengthen your self-esteem and feelings of personal satisfaction.

Ultimately, the benefits of personal education will be about your plans for your future. As the University of Southern California stated, 'Whether you are working, enjoying your retirement, or seeking to return to the workforce, continuing education courses can assist you in meeting your goals.'

Last Updated: 05/11/2014

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