Employers and job seekers both benefit greatest when a solution to staffing needs is found quickly and painlessly. That way, organizations spend less time and money sifting through applications, and job seekers generate less anxiety and stress while desperate for employment.
However, the recruitment process can only be quick and painless when there are highly qualified job seekers on the market. To that end, most recruiters tell hopeful job seekers that the best way to get hired fast is to improve their credentials above those of their competitors.
Often, professional development feels like a waste of time. Why should a worker take time and attention away from employment when a successful career is their primary goal? There are plenty of reasons enrolling in advanced courses, joining career associations and otherwise participating in professional development is a beneficial move. Here’s what one recruiter has to say about the issue, to include the whys and hows job seekers should develop professionally.
Why Every Worker Needs Professional Development
For some professionals, professional development is hard-baked into the career. For example, doctors and nurses must complete continued education courses to maintain their licenses and continue practicing. However, other professionals should strive to enhance their skills and knowledge as well, for a variety of reasons.
Qualify for Work
Even setting aside those career paths where continued education is mandatory, professional development can be all-but-required to qualify for certain levels of employment within many fields. For instance, teachers who want to pivot into counseling do need to earn an advanced degree; they can investigate online Master’s in School Counseling programs to maintain their current employment while they prepare, but to qualify for that line of work, professional development is necessary.
For some workers, professional development does more than qualify them for certain positions; it ensures they will reach the most enviable positions possible. When a resume demonstrates continued engagement with training and education, it proves that a certain candidate has the knowledge and skill — not to mention work ethic — for the best jobs out there. As a result, workers who participate in professional development more often earn higher pay, better benefits, prestige, authority and similar perks.
Reach Career Goals
It’s easy to have a career goal like “become CEO” or “own my own gym,” but working to achieve that goal is much harder. Professional development takes workers closer to their goals, and in many cases, it ensures they reach them relatively fast.
Workers can become burnt out quickly if they don’t feel any kind of challenge, satisfaction or motivation from their work. Professional development is a constant push to be and do better, which keeps workers more engaged in what they are doing. This, in conjunction with a work-life balance and full use of vacation time, should keep workers happy and productive in the long term.
Where to Look for Professional Development
Many workers make the mistake of expecting their employers to provide professional development opportunities. While employers should take note of this — indeed, additional training options is an inexpensive and effective way to keep employees engaged and fulfilled — workers should also recognize that should be taking it upon themselves to seek out professional development when in-house programs aren’t available. Here are just a few places to look for professional development:
Graduate programs. These days, most workers know the importance of bachelor’s degrees, but few are terribly interested in returning to school to earn a master’s or above. However, graduate programs can be relatively short (as little as two years) and provide significant benefits.
Professional associations. Joining a professional association related to one’s profession or industry is a good way to get access to seminars, events and other programs for professional development. There are thousands of professional associations out there; for marketing alone, there are upwards of 27 organizations, most of which offer career assistance to members.
Industry publications. For every professional association in one’s industry, there are at least as many journals and probably twice as many online blogs. Workers can subscribe to these publications for news, insights and more, which qualify as a kind of professional development.
Industry conferences. Conferences are another great way to learn what’s new in the industry. Plus, workers can rub elbows with fellow professionals at these events, expanding their professional network. This is another form of professional development that can lead to greater career success.
Mentorship. Through a professional association, an employer or a network connection, workers can gain mentors, who will provide advice and insight on their career. Studies show that mentorship is associated strongly with positive outcomes, so obtaining a mentor is a good first step into professional development.
Professional development doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all program; workers can experiment with different styles of training to determine what benefits their learning style, career goals and time commitments most. However, take it from this recruiter: Workers do need to engage in professional development to find career success — period.