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At Work

Don’t neglect to invest in your professional development

In the thick of the workday, it’s common to feel like you don’t have the time to learn new tasks or skills.

It often feels like there’s always something more important to cross off your to-do list. But it’s important to set aside time to cultivate your professional development. Doing so can help you get ahead in your career, not just at your current job, but in future roles as well.

Still unconvinced? Below are a handful of reasons you should invest in yourself, plus valuable tips to do it quickly and efficiently, so that you can make the most of what little time you have.

1. Become a more desirable job candidate

Employers are always looking to hire smart, driven people who have a wide set of skills and are committed to developing their expertise. Having lots of experience in different areas will go a long way, especially if you ever find yourself wanting to change jobs, as most people want to do at some point in their careers. Baby boomers, for example, have had around 12 jobs during the course of their lifetime.

How to do it? Find a conference or workshop that’s applicable to your position or interests, and ask your boss if you can attend. If she’s on the fence, make sure to directly tie how attending the event can boost your professional development (and help your team).

2. Build confidence

If you’re looking for a confidence boost, learning new skills can go a long way, not just in the office but out in the real world, as well. That might mean polishing your public speaking skills or learning how to more effectively run a meeting. Sitting in the back of the room and doing the same thing day in and day out can make you feel disengaged and stunt your professional growth.

How to do it? Schedule a meeting with your boss and let her know that you’re looking to take on more responsibility. Ask your manager if you can take on a new project that you know you can handle with your current workload. Your higher-ups might even take some routine tasks off your plate so that you can learn something new.

3. Boost your salary

While your degree and past experience affect how much you earn, it’s often the skills you learn along the way that can help you increase your paycheck.

Research from LinkedIn shows that learning a new skill can help boost your salary, so it’s a good idea to make sure that you have the skills that are highly valued by employers. When it’s time for your annual review, you’ll have a list of all the new skills you picked up during the year and be able to point to them during the salary negotiation process.

How to do it? Figure out where your weaknesses are and the specific areas where you want to cultivate your skills, then enroll in a course, either in person or online. The latter offers a lot of flexibility, which means you can participate when you’re not on the clock.

4. Expand your professional network

Setting aside time to learn can usher influential teachers and industry leaders into your circle, and give you the valuable connections you need to advance your career.

How to do it? If you don’t have the time for structured professional development courses or a workshop, consider in-person learning through your colleagues, bosses and mentors. It can be as informal as a breakfast meeting or a coffee date. And don’t be afraid to reach out. You might be surprised at how willing people are to help once you ask.

While many employees stress during the day to get work done, setting aside time to learn is essential for your own personal success. Doing so will make you feel more engaged in the job you have and more prepared for a new job if you ever decide to leave.



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