How To Take Professional Development Into Your Own Hands

How To Take Professional Development Into Your Own Hands

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s easy to feel that life has been placed on hold. From daily life to family vacations to career aspirations, things have changed fast and the way forward is not yet clear. Well, we’re here to tell you that doesn’t mean you can’t make progress towards your career goals. Far from it, in fact. Here’s how you can take your professional development into your own hands and work towards bringing your career dreams to life. 

10 Ways To Take Control Of Your Career Development

1. Step Back And Assess

First, take a minute to step back and assess what you’re looking for. Do you love your company and want to grow within? Are you looking to move upward in your existing industry or are you interested in learning an entirely new skill or switching careers? Whatever it is that interests you, the first step to getting there is knowing what your short-and long-term goals are.

2. Network Online

Suddenly, after years of totally separate lives, you’re having Zoom happy hours with your college roommates! Take advantage of the open portal that is the internet to connect and network with other professionals. Get creative and make a list of people to contact and set up appointments for short 10-15 minute calls. It could be someone in a similar field or position – or one that’s totally unrelated but interesting to you. Connecting informally  is a great way to get ideas and support without the pressure that comes with an official interview or performance review

3. Seek Out Training and Learning Opportunities

There has never been a time in our history when so much quality education and training could be achieved remotely. Reach out to your HR department to learn what online training options are available within your organization. Many organizations have subscriptions to online education programs that would let you take courses for free. Other companies offer tuition reimbursement, too. 

4. Refresh An Old Skill Or Certification

This is an uncertain time and many industries are facing big changes. Online training is a great way to refresh your skill set and learn and prepare for new or updated compliance regulations. 

Vector has created industry-specific training to help workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Retired EMS workers are being asked to come back to help on the front lines, so our complimentary EMS Refresher training  is allowing them to brush on skills. And, casino workers are using our complimentary online Casino Essentials professional development training to help set themselves up for success when they’re ready to return back to work. 

5. Embrace Mobile Learning

Despite the challenges of our time right now, mobile devices are making it easier to get training wherever learners are – which, right now, is mostly at home. In a study, 70% of learners reported increased motivation when mobile learning and other learners reported completing courses 45% faster when taking them on a mobile device. 

6. Microlearning Is Your Friend

Another exciting trend in 2020 (and one that goes hand in hand with mobile learning) is microlearning – courses and training that are presented in bite-sized snippets that can be completed in just 3-5 minutes. Microlearning harnesses opportunities like social learning and gamification to make the material more engaging and exciting for learners. And the shorter time commitment means you can make progress towards your professional development goals. 

7. Follow Your Interests and Try Something New

From editing photos to making sourdough bread, this is a great time to try something new or resurrect an old interest or hobby that you enjoy. The experience of following your curiosity and joy is not just a way to rethink professional development goals, but a form of self care. Managing stress and anxiety is important during a crisis like this and we have created a complimentary course on the topic in our Coronavirus Resource Center. Make sure you’re taking some time to reflect and take part in activities that bring you peace for your health (and the health of your career goals, too)!

8. Say Yes To Invitations And Opportunities

Right now, people are wearing a lot of hats – so it’s a great time to raise your hand to manage something that normally may fall outside of your current role. From taking additional training, to volunteering for additional remote work opportunities or taking on a part time “side hustle,” you never know where the experience will lead you.

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9. Update Your Resume

Most of us go years between making updates to our resume and it’s easy to forget the important contributions and major projects we’ve been a key part of along the way. Take some time to go over your resume and make sure it’s up-to-date on your skills and experience and reflects who you are now in your career – and where you want to go! 

10. Collect Fan Mail

Do you know what you’re really good at? Or why you’re valued by your coworkers? Reach out to them and find out! Send a short email asking people whose opinion you value to send you a 1-2 sentence testimonial – or a link for them to add one to your LinkedIn profile. These recommendations may help you see yourself in a new light, or help you hone in on improving a skill you didn’t even know you possessed. It also just feels good to know you’re valued and keep you feeling motivated and positive during this challenging time.

There is so much going on in the world right now, it’s easy to feel helpless in the face of an unclear path. By reflecting on your dreams and taking concrete steps toward them, you can turn this experience into an opportunity to empower yourself in working towards the professional future you’ve always dreamed of.