Everyone from Albert Einstein to Michael Scott has their own version of the saying, ‘the day you stop learning is the day you start dying’. However, it’s one that couldn’t be more true in the corporate world.
We live in a world where professional development is the key to success, but finding means of development is often not as simple as it seems. Those looking to upskill will often have to do so off their own accord and in their own time, which deters many. However, professional development is not as difficult as it seems.
We’ve taken a look at the top six ways to professionally develop in 2020, so keep reading to find out how.
6 Top Professional Development Tips
1. Engage in online short courses.
Online short courses are a great way to upskill within your profession at minimal cost, or even explore a new one. Short courses are available in almost everything from SEO and traditional marketing to leadership and management. The best part is, using online short courses for professional development normally only requires a couple of hours a week and you can do them anywhere.
However, not all online education and training courses are created equally. Ensure to do your research on the course provider and ensure the information is relevant to not only your profession, but also the country you reside in. For example Australians looking to enhance their writing skills should not undertake an American English course, as ‘rules’ and best practices differ.
If you’re in the market for short courses, take a look at Google Digital Garage and LinkedIn for industry specific credible qualifications. Following COVID-19, some training providers such as TAFE QLD have released free-of-charge micro courses to help Australians upskill.
2. Network through professional associations.
Professional associations are a great way to expand your network. Many associations host events throughout the year allowing you to meet new people in your industry and share ideas and opinions. You may get to meet people you wouldn’t normally get access to otherwise.
Arguably the most valuable asset of a professional association is the ability to tap into the hidden job market. Many companies poach future employees through industry networking events and association-exclusive job boards.
3. Attend seminars and conferences related to your profession.
Attending seminars and conferences related to your profession is a great way to engage in professional development. Although many of these events have been postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2020, some have simply moved events online. Webinar events have never been more popular, allowing industry professionals to present ideas, practises and theories directly to your lounge room.
A simple Google search will help you get started finding some courses, which will help them start to find you through remarketing ads.
4. Consider completing a degree.
A globally recognised certificate of education can open doors across the world. While many industry professionals may already hold a bachelor degree in their field, completing a higher degree such as a masters or doctorate allows for both personal and professional development.
Unbeknownst to many, a bachelor degree is not a requirement for undertaking a masters degree. Most Australian universities will accept applicants on recognition of practical experience, meaning even those without university qualifications can continue their professional development.
5. Volunteer or engage in work experience.
Volunteering, interning or doing work experience can help you gain practical experience and hands-on skills in your ideal industry, particularly while you’re studying. However, being proactive in finding these professional development opportunities is going to be key to your success.
While trawling job sites, university job boards, LinkedIn and similar will help you find some opportunities, you can also be the one to reach out to a company. Before you do, have a look if they have a careers page or similar on their website. This may help you find further opportunities as well as who may be the best person to address your enquiry to. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, send an email to the general HR or office manager (you may need to call to get this) and let them know why you would like to do work experience with their business, as well as what you bring to the table. Remember, stay humble and acknowledge it’s a learning opportunity for yourself.
For those already in the industry, but still looking to refine your skills, volunteering may be for you. Volunteering, whilst traditionally thought of as helping out at the local animal shelter, is now so much more. Many charitable organisations and non-for-profits now look for volunteers to aid in their professional services, such as digital marketing and social media management.
Volunteering is great for working professionals as the work can often be done outside of traditional office hours, like on the weekend. Take a look at your local government website for volunteering associations in your area.
6. Find a mentor or become a mentee.
If you’re just beginning your career, getting a mentor will put you in touch with a plethora of industry professionals who can help you develop your skills. Those still attending university may have access to an internal mentor program, aligning students with professionals in their field. If not, try reaching out to professionals in your area who you admire via LinkedIn.
Another great way to upskill is to become a mentor yourself. If you’ve been active in your field for a few years, taking a mentee under your wing will not only look great on your resume, but give you a fresh perspective. Teaching is a great way to develop and refine your already existing skill set.
Bonus tip for professional development: speak to your local careers counsellor!
Career counselling can help you learn some additional ways to advance your professional development. You can find your local careers counsellor on Localsearch!