Own Your Personal and Professional Development
by WWNG member Harlem Williams
Often the more educated or experienced we are, the more we develop a sense of professional entitlement. We assume that if we want a job, then—as educated or experienced professionals—the job should and will be ours. This theory probably held true before the age of the dotcom, global talent sourcing and human resource smart systems. However, today this idea is obsolete! As the world becomes increasingly filled with highly educated and experienced professionals, smart and inexpensive global talent becomes easier to find and recruit. To stay in the career game, we must take ownership for our personal and professional development.
But how? First let us define personal development and redefine what we think of as professional development.
Personal development is a lifelong process. It’s a way for people to assess their skills and qualities, consider their aims in life and set goals in order to realize and maximize their potential. – Skills You Need 2015
Professional development can be defined as the steps you take to obtain, reinforce and apply the competences that are relevant for the future needs and competitiveness of you, your firm and your industry. Professional development usually refers to the training that your employer provides to enhance your skills, but I believe that it is individuals who are really responsible for owning their professional development. While there are lots of good reasons for employers to invest in their employees’ professional development, they are not always willing or able to do so. Even when employers want to invest, it is the employees themselves who are often in the best position for figuring out what kind of experiences will be most valuable. For example, as a Human Resource Specialist, I’ve focused my professional development on knowing more about other cultures, about how adults learn, and about how to be technologically savvy in the global age in order to understand how to sell and brand any firm to attract the right talent.
Here are some suggestions for owning your personal and professional development, no matter what your professional and industry background is:
- Join professional associations that center around your skills and industry. It is not good enough to pay the membership fee; participate! (ex. reading articles, going to meetings, networking and attending conferences).
- Attend conferences or networking events in your field. Make a calendar of the industry events happening near you and go to as many as you can, proactively socialize, make connections, learn what is happening now your industry and promote what you have to offer.
- Go online! There are thousands of ways to learn things via the internet. Take MOOCS, participate webinars, listen to podcast or watch YouTube videos.
- Contribute! Now with that new knowledge begin to contribute to your field. Start a Twitter account, blog, speak at conferences and universities and show what you have learned to the world.
- Take it back to your firm! Be an intrapreneur! It is great that you learned all those new competencies, but for anyone to know you must share it at work. Put on a professional development session for your colleagues, make suggestions to your boss or just change your own approach.
With these five best practices, you will be off to a great start! Keep me posted on your journey – leave a comment here, or