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Why Pursue Continued Professional Development

Wednesday, August 21, 2013
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Within a few weeks, professional development offerings for the fall will begin. Are you giving thought to your own learning needs and interests while reviewing your organization’s requirements?

With the recently updated ASTD Competency Model, fast-paced technology expansion, and business and economic challenges affecting the T&D field, commitment to this profession means that continual development is no longer optional. Instead, it’s a necessity for your long-term survival and future success.

Positioning yourself for advancement, changing jobs, emphasizing different skill sets, or expanding your AOEs requires performance excellence. In fact, this is one way of taking control of the management of your career.

Organizations and employees undertake professional development activities for a number of reasons, including:

  • to keep skills and competencies current
  • to meet employer expectations for participation in professional growth activities to avoid burn-out and disengagement from work
  • to acquire leadership and management expertise for advancement opportunities
  • to be knowledgeable of latest trends, resources, and tools
  • to add credentials to résumé for a competitive edge in marketing activities
  • to expand employment and career options.

Your learning plan consists of six basic elements that, when considered as a complete unit, will meet work needs and accomplish future career goals. Consider the following questions when identifying a specific learning activity, site, and delivery method:

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  1. Why do you want to learn? What are your reasons for this desire? For example, you want more challenging assignments or plan to shift to external consulting.
  2. What will you learn? What is the subject matter? For example, you plan to update a competency, expand knowledge base of methodology, or add another tool to your resources.
  3. Will learning be formally structured? Will you receive accreditation? For example, learning will confer a degree, certification, or continuing education credits (CEUs).
  4. How will learning be delivered? What method or techniques will be used? For example, you will use online training or traditional classroom lecture.
  5. Where will you learn? For example, you will learn on a campus, at home, or outside of a traditional location using a tablet.
  6. When will you learn? What is the timeframe? For example, you will start in six months and complete in two years or you will attend a one-day professional development workshop sponsored by your ASTD Chapter in two months.

Another consideration is assessing your personal and family lifestyle, including such items as schedules, responsibilities, priorities, free time, work travel, overtime, and so forth. Also, if your professional development strategy involves off-site learning sites and formalized structured curriculum, do you have the support of the significant people in your life? Are they willing to make adjustments with household assignments and chores as well as time for family activities and vacations?

Make professional development a priority for achieving continual productivity, career progress, and awareness of new developments and technologies. It is important that you stay on the cutting-edge of your work to remain competitive and to accomplish your goals.

No matter where you are in your career or what work modifications you’re considering, in an age of accelerated change and reorganization, continual professional growth is essential to prevent career plateaus and burnout. Remember: you have control over your career’s pathway—both in shape and direction.


About the Author
Annabelle Reitman has more than 40 years of experience in career coaching and counseling, specializing in résumé development that targets clients’ individualized professional stories. She also does short-term coaching for people in work transitions, enabling them to successfully continue their career journey. Reitman is an established writer and author in the career and talent management arenas. She is a co-author of ATD's Career Moves (2013) and contributed the Take charge of Your Career: Breaking Into & Advancing in the T&D Profession Chapter to the  ASTD Handbook, 2nd edition (2014). Reitman holds doctorate and master’s degrees in higher education administration from Teachers College, Columbia University.
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