No matter who you are, the time will come when you will need to enter the job market. Of course, the most common is to start with a modest salary and in a position that is not very important, because one of the most important elements that you ought to work on is your professional development.
Because of this and the constantly changing world, this part is a major part of the life of anyone who works and it is vital to pay attention to it.
13 Ways You Can Improve Your Professional Development
To help you, today we will present you 13 tips that will help you work on your professional development. Some will do for you, so be sure to read all of them.
#1. Set realistic and fixed goals
Although this is one of the most basic means to start improving your professional development, it is also one of the most hard to achieve, since many times one tends to set goals that are very distant or simply impossible.
By sharing your big goals into multiple small goals, you would be able to channel your energy much better and avoid feeling lost.
In addition to this, having close goals that are constantly updated will make it easier to measure your progress and adjust as you go, thus ensuring that you are always heading in the right direction.
That been said, it’s crucial to make you understand it isn’t about drastically altering your goals as soon as the going gets tough, but it’s about constantly moving towards the small victories that will get you to where you want to be.
Consider winning the war, not just the battle!
#2. Always expand your knowledge
For full and successful career development, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the fact that many positions or job openings require a very specific set of skills or knowledge.
From here you have two options: limit yourself to less complex positions or do what is necessary to obtain the knowledge and certificates necessary to opt for higher-level jobs in the future.
Obviously, if you really want your professional development to continue advancing, you will choose the second option. Even though it’s a fact that it won’t be easy, the truth is studying for a university degree is one option that would improve the quality of your life.
Studying a bachelor’s degree if you don’t already have one or a master’s degree if you already have a degree is one of the most direct ways to stimulate your professional development, although it is also one of the most time, effort and money.
Anyway, that shouldn’t scare you. There are a number of ways you can get educational funding, and time and effort are up to you.
A slightly more accessible option, but that has less effect, is to attend courses or diplomas that can give you the knowledge or skills required for a given position in a more concise and brief way. However, it should be mentioned that, if you want to have access to the best jobs in the industry, it is very likely that this option falls a bit short.
#3. Separate your work life from your personal life
This is one of the most basic elements to achieve good professional development, but it is not as easy as it sounds and it requires a lot of willpower.
When returning home for example, it is always good to put aside all the problems and worries generated by work, isn’t it? Well, you should also apply the same concept in the opposite direction.
That is, put aside the personal problems you have when you arrive at the office and try to only focus on the work you are doing.
Maybe theoretically it sounds like something simple, but factually speaking it is not, especially if you have dependents to take care of and debts to pay.
Don’t forget that worrying doesn’t solve anything. In fact, in some cases, it works against you and cost you more silly and avoidable mistakes because you are not fully focused.
Always focus on what you do. This is one of the best ways to develop as a professional!
#4. Don’t close yourself from new opportunities
On many occasions, we have in our minds an idea of how we should be, of how we have to act to fulfill our dreams and improve our quality of life; however, this idea is often wrong.
It is important that you keep an open mind to discover new and better ways to route your work, and take advantage of every opportunity that is available to you. The truth is even the smallest of adjustments can make a huge difference. Like the popular saying goes “The difference between the ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra”
Don’t get too bounded to how you do things. On the contrary, always believe that there is something you can be doing better. Teach your mind to never blame others for what goes wrong at work, instead first analyze what could’ve been done differently.
Nobody becomes a successful professional if they do not have that capacity for self-criticism and an open mind to try new things.
Think of the great professionals of this era: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Jeffrey Bezos. They all accomplished great things precisely because they dared to try different things and venture into uncharted territory.
Of course, I’m not telling you to go out and open the company that will dethrone Amazon, but to put things into perspective: if they could do something like this on a global scale, what stops you from doing it in your office?
#5. Keep a positive attitude
Sometimes, the smallest details are those that can make the biggest differences and, believe it or not, the attitude with which you develop in your work environment is one of the most important elements in your professional development.
Additionally to maintaining a positive outlook, others seeing you as a hardworking, enjoyable and trustworthy person, having the mental strength would enable you to initiate a proactive and optimistic state of mind that will lead you to become the ideal professional for any company.
On the other hand, it is also important to mention that, if you have a good attitude, you would be more attentive to the problems that appear and you’d face and solve them appropriately, which is a major skill that not everybody has and that is highly valued in the labor market.
#6. Be consistent
Doing something right once is not too difficult, the tricky thing is being the kind of professional who always delivers a job well done no matter the circumstances.
Consistency has many positive effects on life in general; But, when you apply it in your professional development, it can cause drastic changes.
If you get used to working in a specific way, you will take some preventive actions so as not to make mistakes and you will look for ways to be more efficient in what you do; In this way, you will be building a very attractive professional image that will allow you to scale.
Being a boss is not easy, there are too many things to pay attention to and many people to empower. For that reason, being the always-responsive employee, regardless of whether you are supervised or not, is an incalculable advantage.
Of course, in addition to all that, being consistent also helps you build character, be more disciplined, and hone the skills that your job asks you to use every day. That’s to say, it makes you a more well-rounded professional.
#7. Use your time wisely
Time is one of the most important resources that companies and employees have. All the people are tied to the 24 hours of the day; there is no way to escape from that. The only thing you can control is how much you take advantage of each minute.
That said, the problem many times does not appear because it is difficult for us to take advantage of the time, but because we do not even know what we are wasting it on.
Try to write down all the times in which, in one way or another, you lost time at work and add the minutes at the end of the day. You will most likely be surprised by what you find!
If you want some tips to make the most of your time, here are some of them:
- Plan your activities efficiently. When you know what activities or tasks you have to do, it is difficult for something to go unnoticed.
- Use the time out. If there is any activity or situation that requires you to wait for some result (such as a process on the computer or the response of a client or collaborator) do not waste that time, advance other pending ones.
- Prepare your day in advance. Try to acquire habits that help you perform better and improve your image. For example, prepare your clothes the night before, get up early every morning, do a mental review of everything you have to achieve that day, and so on.
- Find ways to cut travel times. Try that your office and your home are not too far away and look for more efficient routes.
- Use your free time to get improvements that can boost your professional development. Here you can start from something as simple as watching videos on YouTube to find ways to do your job better, to something as complex as going back to university and accessing a higher education.
- Each of those tips can make the difference between staying in the job you have now or finding a better one.
#8. Always increase your contacts and maintain communication with them
The more people you meet, the bigger your outlook and the more opportunities you have at your disposal. Not only will this help you choose the option that suits you best, but it will also make you feel more at ease.
For example, if the company you are in now goes bankrupt or one day you suffer an unexpected dismissal, having a long list of contacts can help you a lot to get out of that jam.
Best of all, you don’t need to be friends with powerful entrepreneurs for that to happen. After all, don’t forget that your acquaintances also have their own circle of contacts that can be useful to you.
In any case, remember that it is not about generating friendships to get you out of trouble; If you start with that premise, it is very likely that people will notice and leave you aside. Nobody wants to be friends with an interested party!
The main reason why you are interested in building a network of contacts is that you will be able to interact with other professionals, learn from them and create business opportunities.
Of course, also remember that if you want your relationships to be strong and long-lasting, you have to be willing to put your hands in the fire for your allies. Giving and giving!
#9. Avoid conflicts
The nature of the human being is to be different and that generates all kinds of shocks both in personal and professional life. Therefore, an important part of your professional development is that you learn to choose your battles.
It is obvious that there are situations in which it is not advisable to remain silent; but there are others where you should be more cautious. At the end of the day, conflict is something you need to avoid when you can. Always see to it that problems are resolved in civilized conversation.
Differences of opinion are something totally unavoidable and if you are one of those who deal with them in an inelegant or even violent way, it is impossible for you to be considered for a high position in which you have to act as boss and have people in your charge.
The important thing is that you find that balance between saying what you think (or explaining to your colleagues why you think they are wrong) and saving yourself the shock. It’s never good to be the bone of contention in your company!
#10. Learn to communicate correctly
This point is related to what we mentioned before, but it focuses more on interaction: on how you communicate with your colleagues. This aspect can literally make the difference between failure and success in your career.
In one way or another, success at work depends a lot on the ability you have to share your ideas with the rest of your colleagues. This applies to both employees and those in managerial positions.
Of course, this is not a surprise to anyone, after all, human beings need to communicate to understand each other, especially when they get together in complex environments. However, just because it’s not a surprise doesn’t mean it’s easy to communicate. In fact, this quality is one of the most difficult to develop.
If you are a shy person, this can prevent you from being able to take leadership positions or worse, from being given the opportunity to have a management position and not being able to perform it correctly because you do not know how to put your team in tune.
Even if you are an extrovert, you need to learn to measure yourself or else you can become the typical annoying companion who keeps walking from one cubicle to another talking to everyone about anything.
If you want to learn to speak and express yourself, try practicing in front of the mirror, watching videos of lectures by good speakers (TED Talks are pretty good), and reading a lot (a large vocabulary always helps). Speaking clearly and assertively will make a better impression of yourself on others, so training is in your best interest.
#11. Practice personal marketing
One of the most complicated and threatening aspects of the workplace is competitiveness. Just as you want a promotion, a raise or a better job, rest assured that behind you there are ten others who want the same thing.
Since you have no idea what the capabilities of your opponents are, the only thing you can do is use your own skills and resources to differentiate yourself from the rest.
Or, is it not?
Well, partly yes, but there is something else you can try: build a recognized professional image.
Many times how you present yourself to others or the impression other people have of you matters more than your skills or your performance.
For example, it is very useful that you are an orderly professional, but if no one in your company realizes that you are, that quality is not helping you as much as it should.
Remember that your boss is not reading minds or seeing you every second of the day. If he or she does not know what your qualities are and what you are offering the company, it is difficult for him to recommend you for a higher position.
So be sure to share your achievements, let people know what you do. When you have good results, take them to your superior with pride and share them.
Of course, never be arrogant or pedantic to your colleagues. Also, don’t be the kind of professional who only moves when the boss is watching. The best way to build your professional image is to always do your job!
#12. Have an outstanding job performance
It couldn’t be simpler: the most direct way to advance your professional development is through good job performance. It’s a matter of logic: the better your job, the more likely you are to get a raise or put you in a better position.
Although it is true that there are some times when performance is not enough, the truth is that, if you are not one of the best in your company, you will not have the slightest opportunity to scale.
In addition to all this, when you give the company the results it expects from you, and even more, it is much more likely that it will use its skills and contacts to help you boost your professional development.
#13. Talk to the Human Resources staff
Finally, this point may seem too simplistic; however, you would be surprised how many people have not received an opportunity because they do not ask for it. The individuals who manage the staff of a company are the first ones you should talk to to get it.
In addition, when you approach the Human Resources department of your company, not only are you making it clear that you have the interest and initiative to advance in your professional development, but you can also discover exactly what they are looking for to fill the positions most important of the company.
By talking with these people, you will be able to discover what opportunities will be available to you, either in the short, medium or long term, as well as the requirements that you must meet to be taken into account for a promotion or a change of area.
Of course, you may also find that your company doesn’t really offer you the professional development you’ve been waiting for. If that happens, perhaps it is best to go out and seek new horizons; If this is the case, the sooner you discover this, the better it will be for you.
On this journey of professional development, you decide what to do
Job development is an essential part of everyone’s life, and that is why it is very important that you start taking actions that enhance yours. Make sure you use all the resources you have around you and never stop pushing yourself.
There are many options that will help you develop regardless of your career, whether it is Public Accounting, Business Administration, or something more focused on health such as a career in Nutrition. The point is that there are always ways to boost your professional development, you just have to look for them and apply them.
So, which of these tips do you think is the most useful for your professional development? Have you applied to any of them? What other strategies do you know? Leave us your answers and your opinions in the comments space, we are very interested in knowing what you think!