Learning doesn’t stop once you enter the workforce—at least not if you want to become successful. After all, no one begins their career knowing everything they will ever need to know. The work world is constantly changing, and technologies and methodologies in use now may be irrelevant or outdated in a very short time.
To move forward in your career and reach your goals, you need to make professional development a priority. Whether you take classes or workshops, participate in mentoring programs, or attend industry conferences, it’s critical to continue learning and improving.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ALLOWS YOU TO:
- Enhance Skills and Knowledge
- Stay Competitive in the Job Market
- Increase Opportunities for Advancement
- Boost Confidence and Job Satisfaction
- Embrace Innovation and Adaptability
- Build a Professional Network
- Foster Leadership and Influence
- Cultivate Long-Term Career Growth
ENHANCE SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE
The most obvious benefit of engaging in professional development is that it allows you to gain new skills and expand your expertise. This is important to ensure that your skills don’t get stagnant. Plus, everyone has weaknesses or areas that could be improved; by taking steps to address whatever skills gap you may have, you can improve your job performance and demonstrate your willingness to learn and grow.
Professional development can help you hone your job-specific skills. For instance, depending on your industry, you might want to focus on learning a new programming language, employee retention method, or health and safety regulation.
But technical skills alone are not enough. Professional development can be equally important in helping you build your so-called “soft” skills—those intangible abilities that help you thrive in all kinds of workplaces.
According to the latest World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report, employers expect the following skills to grow the most in importance over the next few years:
- Creative thinking
- Analytical thinking
- Technological literacy
- Curiosity and lifelong learning
- Resilience, flexibility, and agility
STAY COMPETITIVE IN THE JOB MARKET
If you want to remain relevant and maintain your value in the labour market, ongoing professional development is critical.
The World Economic Forum notes that almost half (44 per cent) of employee skill sets will be disrupted within the next five years. In fact, the report estimates that 60 per cent of workers will need upskilling or reskilling by 2027.
For instance, trends like automation and the continued adoption of generative AI will impact industries across the board.
“Whether you’re a factory worker on the front lines or whether you’re a knowledge worker sitting behind a desk, technology is shifting the way almost every job task will be performed,” Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda declared in a Radio Davos podcast.
Those who are slower to adapt run the risk of getting left behind. But by actively seeking out new knowledge and skills and positioning yourself as an individual who can change with the times, you can stand out from the crowd and become more competitive in the job market.
INCREASE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADVANCEMENT
Taking charge of your professional development shows that you are a proactive and growth-oriented individual. Employers appreciate workers who invest in their own growth and are more likely to consider them for career advancement opportunities.
Demonstrating your willingness to improve your skills and stay on top of industry trends can make you a stronger candidate for promotions, leadership roles, or higher-level responsibilities. Research suggests that around one-third of employers consider being a fast learner one of the top traits when hiring for senior or managerial positions.
Of course, advancement doesn’t always mean moving up the ladder. You might be more interested in a lateral move—and professional development can help there, too.
Pew Research found that among adults who undertook professional learning activities, 47 per cent said doing so helped them advance within their current company. Another 29 per cent said it helped them land a new job. And 27 per cent said it helped them choose an entirely different career path.
The takeaway? Pursuing professional development showcases your dedication to personal and organizational growth and opens up more career opportunities.
Honing your skills can help you advance in your career
BOOST CONFIDENCE AND JOB SATISFACTION
It might surprise you to learn that promotions and raises are not the main reasons people engage in professional development. The number one reason, according to a ResumeLab survey, is to get better at their jobs. In other words, most people seek training because doing so makes them feel more confident and competent in their roles.
After all, when you’re good at what you do, you tend to be more satisfied and fulfilled at work.
In the ResumeLab survey, when employees were asked about factors for job satisfaction, they ranked professional development opportunities ahead of paid vacation days. Continual development was so important that more than half of the survey respondents said they pursued it on their own time and paid for it out of their own pocket.
Taking courses or attending workshops challenges you to step out of your comfort zone and develop expertise in emerging areas. As you acquire new skills and knowledge, your confidence grows, enabling you to tackle complex projects, lead teams, and pursue ambitious career goals.
EMBRACE INNOVATION AND ADAPTABILITY
Engaging in professional development activities helps you see things from a different perspective and come up with innovative ways of approaching problems. It challenges you to examine processes and procedures with a critical eye. It also enables you to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to impending changes.
If you don’t push yourself to learn anything new, you will continue to do things the way you’ve always done them. You might resist trying new things because you’re afraid of not being successful. Not only will that make you seem out of touch, but it will also leave you unprepared to pivot when changes occur in your industry. That’s not a recipe for long-term career success.
In today’s rapidly changing work environment, adaptability is crucial. Professional development opportunities help you stay agile by acquiring new skills, adapting to technological advancements, and embracing innovative practices. This adaptability allows you to navigate industry disruptions, take on new challenges, and remain relevant in an ever-evolving job market.
BUILD A PROFESSIONAL NETWORK
When you attend workshops, classes, or conferences, you get to interact with peers, experts, and leaders in your industry. You can share your ideas and learn from others’ experiences. More importantly, you can build relationships with fellow professionals. That can lead to mentorship opportunities, partnerships, and access to new career prospects.
According to the 2022 Job Seeker Nation Report from Jobvite, 25 per cent of employees found out about job postings through their professional connections. That’s a valuable source of leads. The wider your network, the more people will be aware of what you have to offer and the greater your chances of uncovering your next great job opportunity.
Having a robust professional network can also come in handy when you run into a job issue that has you stumped, or you’re not sure how to reach your next career goal, or you could use some help with identifying areas of growth and shaping your development plans. Chances are that one of your connections will have relevant experience or advice to offer.
Building and nurturing relationships with industry insiders can provide valuable guidance, support, and connections throughout your career.
Professional development activities bring industry experts together
FOSTER LEADERSHIP AND INFLUENCE
Many professional development programs and activities focus on developing leadership skills like decision making, communication, and time management. Improving your abilities in these areas can help you perform better regardless of your role; it can also boost your odds of being considered for managerial or executive positions.
When you demonstrate your commitment to continual learning, you set yourself apart as someone who takes charge of their career training and stays on top of new developments. That can give you an air of authority and help you rise through the ranks.
By actively participating in conferences, publishing articles, speaking at events, or contributing to industry forums, you establish yourself as a thought leader. Over time, you can become recognized as an expert in your field. This enhanced professional reputation increases your visibility, credibility, and social influence.
And companies clearly value these types of abilities. In the Future of Jobs survey by the World Economic Forum, 40 per cent of companies said they planned to prioritize leadership and social influence in their upskilling strategies over the next few years.
CULTIVATE LONG-TERM CAREER GROWTH
Whether you’re aiming for greater responsibilities, a leadership role, or a lateral move to an area you’re more passionate about, the importance of training and development cannot be overstated.
Remember: companies want employees who embrace a growth mindset. You need to get past the fear of failure and believe that you can improve your skills and abilities.
So take advantage of your company’s mentorship or upskilling programs, if available. Enrol in an online course to hone your existing skills or develop new ones. Many companies encourage employees by having professional development budgets and will subsidize the cost of courses if you can show how the training will make you more effective in your role and thus benefit the organization.
Engaging in professional development activities enables you to refine your knowledge and expertise—and this, in turn, can help you lay the foundation for long-term career growth.
EXPLORE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT TRAINING THROUGH KOMPASS
Kompass Professional Development is a division of Herzing College that offers quality online training programs designed for working professionals. Courses are taught by experienced industry professionals and cover a number of fields, including:
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Family Mediation
- Health and Safety Management
- Human Resources Management
- Mental Health and Addictions
- Online Project Management
- Public Policy and Administration
Click below to learn more about what we have to offer. You can also chat live with a knowledgeable advisor who can review your professional goals and help you determine if Kompass is a good match.