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Don’t Fall Behind: Use Professional Development to Get Ahead

October 11, 2021

With all of the ups and downs of the last couple of years, many people have been questioning their careers.

The media has even given it a name – the Great Resignation – so now you know it’s real.

According to Fast Company…

…as many as 95% of the workforce is considering leaving their organization.

These findings show employees are taking time to reprioritize—which may not lead to resigning. If leaders approach the situation with grace, organizations might be able to capitalize on these newfound priorities to not only retain employees but attract new ones. As workers return to the office, leaders should proceed with great caution, transparency, and open-mindedness. A failure to do so might instigate a mass exodus of employees that are interested in more accommodating opportunities.

Even if you’re not thinking about leaving your job, you might be wondering about your next steps. And I’ve got great news for you: professional development is a good way to help yourself financially and is completely within your control.

Women & Professional Development

For women, making an effort when it comes to professional development is especially important. We often take time out of the workforce to care for children or aging parents more than men do.

Unfortunately, this leads to missed opportunities and experiences. It shouldn’t have to be this way, but right now it is – the recent “Shecession” brought about by COVID is the perfect example of how women take on the bulk of caregiving, which means they fall behind professionally.

We need to do everything we can to level the playing field.

Keep in mind that women also feel more comfortable touting their skills when they are concrete and “provable” rather than utilizing the “fake it til you make it” strategy that men often use.

Think Outside the Box

When you think of “professional development” I’m betting that time spent in mind-numbing classes might spring to mind. And, yes, there are some that are less fun than others. For example, the 30 hours I spend every two years completing financial education for my CFP® Certification is not something I look at on my calendar with breathless anticipation.

However, I know that it’s important to stay on top of changes in the financial industry for my clients so I’m happy to do it.

I also spend time reading about current trends and what is happening daily. And a good portion of my effort is spent doing something I really enjoy, like learning how to best understand my clients’ goals, how best to educate my clients, and how women’s beliefs and behaviors affect their finances.

While that might not be what you think of when you think “professional development” these “softer” skills are crucial to my business and have made a big impact.

Ask Your Boss

What boss wouldn’t love to have an employee who is interested in bringing more to their job? Now, let’s see if they’ll pay for it.

If you can show how taking a particular course or attending a conference will benefit the company and your team, they may absorb the cost even if there is not a budget for professional development. If your company won’t pay course fees, etc. you should negotiate to use your work hours to complete the coursework. Again, showing the benefit to the company (even if it’s something you’re interested in personally) goes a long way toward getting this approved. 

If you are not able to have management pay for fees, or use work hours to do this, don’t neglect it. Spending personal time on professional development is a great way further your career and learn new skills.

Just think: Maybe you can use those new skills to find a job where they do pay for continuing education.

It’s Not Just About the Bottom Line    

While I’m all for using professional development to further your career and increase your pay, remember that it’s not all about the money. We spend a lot of time working, so it’s important to like what we do.

Again, that’s been the impetus for the Great Resignation.

With that, I’ll leave you with these words from Women Who Money:

There are many benefits to continuing your professional development. It can help you boost your career and enjoy your life more.

Not only can it help you increase your income, but it may help you spend less on things you previously splurged on to help you cope with a stressful work situation.

When you’re unhappy or feel stuck in a job you dislike, you’re not living the best experience you can. This can lead us to spend recklessly or mismanage our finances.

The compounding benefits of engaging in continuous learning, whether formal or informal, can be quite rewarding. Financially and otherwise.

As Neil Postman, author of The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School, said, “At its best, schooling can be about how to make a life, which is quite different from how to make a living.”

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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