Developing your professional skills is an excellent idea in any economy but particularly important when the labour market is highly competitive. With more players on the scene, those who continually invest in their own skills and talents have significant advantages.
One of the most common errors in training is to look for ways of improving weaknesses rather than developing areas of strength. Imagine you’re a top-producing sales professional but profoundly dislike documenting your monthly expenses. Will a workshop on organizing and filing help? Face it: You’ll probably never be an organizing whiz. As long as your weaknesses don’t detract from the quality of your work (remember, you’re a sales professional after all!), forget about overcoming your weaknesses.
Instead, think of training as a way of boosting your strengths and passions so that you can anticipate the highest return on investment. Say you’re a successful business professional aiming at an executive-level position. You may need some graduate education, possibly an MBA. If you’re an aspiring accountant, proper licensing and professional credentials are key to senior roles.
Whatever your profession, leverage your interests and existing abilities to take your career to the next step.
Training and professional development require the investment not only of money but also of time and energy. A few ideas to help you be a smart investor and achieve the highest return:
Public speaking events and conferences: Attend speaker events and relevant conferences to update your knowledge of developments in your area. Extend your network at these events.
Do your homework: Get the latest business books that apply to your field. Subscribe to relevant publications: blogs, email newsletters, podcasts, business publications and magazines or scientific journals.
Get the most from your industry association: Most professional associations provide in-depth literature lists and compile overviews of the latest research done in their fields. They often offer valuable seminars and workshops to members.
Find a mentor: Life lessons frequently offer more value than theory. Talk to an accomplished professional in your field ideally about 15 years your senior. Build a mentoring relationship, learn from his or her experience and bounce off your ideas.
Talk to your employer: Most employers understand that continuing education give their staff and ultimately their companies competitive advantages. They may offer financial support or pay for time taken off for studying.