Importance of professional development in a career change

career pivot career tips Feb 02, 2023
A woman sitting at a table with a paper in front of her and a pen in her hand. A man is sitting beside her and leaning over, pointing to something on the page.

When employees getting kicked off their VPN means they’ve been fired, it’s time to reconsider what you can offer your company. 


These mass layoffs do not mean you are not a valuable employee. In fact, it’s not your fault. Employers are trying to cut their capital losses, and unfortunately, that means their staff are the first to go. Luckily, there are plenty of responsible companies that are still looking for great talent to join their teams. This is your time to shine.


If you’ve recently lost your job, you should consider how to enhance your resume to make you stand out to employers. 


Professional development is one way to help you get promoted in your career or transition into a new industry all together. Having more skills, capabilities with more softwares or applications, and a greater knowledge of emerging concepts makes you harder to get rid of. You become the person they pay more instead of hiring another person with niche skills. You are the person they can’t afford to fire. 


Here’s how you jump start your professional development to land the career change you want.


Make lists

Your new career won’t just fall in your lap. You must plan for it. You must have a vision. To feed that vision, you have to examine where you have come from and where you want to go. A few lists will help you organize your skills and desires to make sure you end up in a better situation than you were before.


A list of past achievements

Big or small – you have to speak about tasks you have worked on. 


Finishing a multi-year project, positive stakeholder relations, onboarding great clients, reaching your sales goals, closing deals… These are just some examples of impressive work that can speak to your strengths and what you can offer to new companies.


Keep figures in mind to cite your success such as retention rates, volume and monetary value of sales, and growth percentages. 


A list of future achievements

This list is for things you want to achieve. Leading a project, developing a vendor application, being the point-person for a high-stakes client… Knowing what you want to achieve in your next job will help you find jobs that will challenge and fulfill you. It will also help you when you are interviewing and need to speak about your goals. Being an ambitious job-hunter will assure hiring teams that you are someone who will put their best foot forward to help their company excel.


A list of past mistakes and/or losses

This may be hard to do, but it is also necessary. If you know your weaknesses or you can remember exactly where you went wrong with a significant project, you can stop it from happening in the future. You’ll be able to spot warning signs early and know where to ask for help so your work doesn’t suffer. It will also prepare you for the inevitable interview question: give me an example of when you failed.


A list of professional skills

This list will vary depending on what industry you're in and what job position you hold, but list everything. Microsoft Office, Adobe, design certificates, coding languages, financier and accounting 


A list of soft skills

This is where your teamwork, adaptability, communication, and other skills have a chance to shine. For each skill you list, write down a memory from work when you were able to demonstrate this skill. It is helpful for interview prep and it will also help you describe how you work on your resume and cover letter. 


Here are some other soft skills that pair well when you are trying to improve your professional development:

  • Scheduling
  • Analytical thinking
  • Flexibility
  • Time management skills
  • Customer service


A list of companies you want to work for

Your companies should include places where your new skills will be sought after. Small, medium, and large companies should be on your radar. Very popular and lesser known companies should make the list. You should have a range of employers you are willing to work for because they will ask different things from you and will shape how you transition into the new career. 


You could get more professional support from management in a small company or you could have a big professional development budget in a big company. 


A list of professional gaps

When you start saving job postings, take note of the responsibilities, programs, and professional skills you have no experience with. Taking note of these will tell you where you need to improve before you make the leap.

Enroll in bootcamp and online courses

When you know what you’re missing, all you have to do is find the companies teaching them for free or for relatively cheap prices. Even if some courses are more expensive than others, remember that paying for professional development is an investment. Spending a couple of hundred or thousands on a few weeks or months of classes can be the reason you get a $30,000 pay raise. It will pay off in the end. 


Here are a few online courses and bootcamps to look for professional development classes:

Source: Code Academy


While doing unpaid work may not be feasible for everyone, it is worth considering if it is possible for you. You may not be skilled enough to be paid when you are just beginning with a new coding or project management project, but you can build up your skills in the charitable sector.


Find an organization with a mission you care about and ask where you can be used to help them fulfill their programming and operation needs. Lending your skills for free not only ties you to a community, but it gives your professional skills a chance to influence a community and an organization. The references you get from this work will help you as you transition to work you can be paid for.


But professional development doesn’t have to start when you’re unemployed. Here are some ways to develop professionally while you’re working.


Seek feedback from management and colleagues

If you don’t already have monthly or bi-monthly meetings set up with your management, considering organizing it. This is a great way to make sure you are progressing in your career. It gives you an opportunity to be praised for what you do well and improve in some areas of weakness. 


Ask your manager what you would need to do or improve on to be a more supportive and valuable team-member. Getting feedback on what you can offer and what you can add to the team is a great way to continue developing professionally. 

Ask your manager about a professional development budget

Another way is to ask your management about paying for you to enroll in a training course, online class, or bootcamp. This way, you can improve and immediately have the space to apply it to your work. 


Professional development budgets can help you expand your job capabilities or set you up on the path to promotion through management training.

Ask to shadow a superior at work

If there is no money available for you, ask someone to shadow someone who works above you. Ask to join them on meeting calls. Inquire about different softwares they use. Offer to take on more work with their support so you can see how they work and adopt their skills as your own. 

Professional development secures your future

Professional development can take a few different shapes: bootcamp, volunteering, online courses, mentorship and more. Take stock of your skills and take the necessary steps to be the most employable versions of yourself.


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