ADVICE

5 ways to take charge of your professional development in 2020

SOURCE: Kay Nietfeld/POOL/AFP
Professional development will help you push the boundaries of what you are capable of achieving in your professional life.


By U2B Staff 

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Professional development is everyone’s personal responsibility. Rather than wait passively for your employer to provide learning opportunities for you to upskill, it’s essential instead to prioritise and invest in it, especially in a tumultuous job market. 

Professional development helps you gain new knowledge and skills that can help you evolve in your current professional role, progress up the career ladder or help you make a career transition. These skills can translate to taking on bigger responsibilities at work to future-proof your career in the ever-evolving job market.

There are numerous resources available to help individuals upskill themselves. Some are self-paced and can be done remotely, which can help you learn specific or a variety of hard and soft skills to make you more valuable to employers. Others are shorter in duration and require you to physically attend classes.

Professional development opportunities are widely available. Here are some of your options:

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Online courses

COVID-19 has opened the floodgates to online courses, which is a boon for many professionals who are looking for ways to learn new skills without taking on debt, or that caters to individuals with varied budgets.

There is a myriad of platforms available to facilitate your learning. This includes LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, as well as online courses currently being offered by universities around the world.

Some private companies are also offering their expertise for professionals in specific industries. For instance, Fortinet – a cybersecurity company – is offering free training for cybersecurity professionals, IT professionals and teleworkers until the end of 2020.

So be strategic in your approach by choosing a programme that gives you the platform to grow as a professional.  

Get a mentor

There’s nothing like having someone who has a wealth of experience to guide you in your professional life, helping you to avoid making common pitfalls in your career or who can impart words of wisdom that will help you take your career to the next level. 

Mentors are professional relationships that can benefit just about anyone. 

The role of a mentor largely depends on the goal(s) that both mentors and mentees have agreed to. This could include serving as a guide to mentees by sharing their career paths and how they got to where they are today, providing career guidance or even motivation to a mentee.

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Tap into the power of social media

Social media has a wide range of uses, but for professionals, tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter can be used to not only stay abreast of the latest trends happening in your industry, but to also connect with thought leaders in your field or a sector you hope to branch into.

Be active – comment on posts, share your thoughts through posts or showcase your skills by displaying your portfolio to open yourself up to new opportunities.

Attend workshops and conferences

Attending workshops, conferences and seminars are just some of the ways you can continuously learn from experts in your field or in the field you’re interested in going into. 

The knowledge and skills acquired at these events will not only help you to become an expert in your industry, but the people you meet or the speakers you listen to also serve as an important source of inspiration.

They also act as excellent networking platforms to expand your network with industry professionals. You’ll never know when your paths might cross again in the future. 

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Never stop being a sponge

Professional development doesn’t always have to cost money. 

There is a variety of quality content available online, be it in the form of e-books, online articles to podcasts that will contribute to your professional growth, helping you to learn from thought leaders and stay abreast of the latest ongoings in your field. 

Learning should never stop, no matter what stage you are in your career.