The last twenty years has seen massive change in the workplace. We are working longer hours, collaborating with colleagues more often and more intensely, and dealing with the complexities of multinational projects. While much of this change has been driven by globalization and the technology that supports it, there have also been significant changes in the nature of work and the roles that are on offer. Indeed there are many roles now available that were not even imagined ten or more years ago, and this trend is set to continue. In the wake of this ongoing change, the demand for smart, skilled and flexible professionals continues to grow. This is the age of the knowledge worker.
In the past, career development and opportunities came to those who had “served their time”. There were clear job roles, career paths and accountabilities. It was not impossible to work for one company for your entire career — moving from an entry level job through to senior management over the course of a thirty year career. But the new workplace is a very different place. It is built upon performance, flexibility and leadership, and success is measured in very different ways. To remain competitive in this new workplace, it is increasingly important that professionals actively manage and grow their skill base as part of an overall professional career plan.
When you are looking to grow your professional skills (whether these are technical or business related), it is important to ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I contributing to my community? By visiting the SDN and BPX Communities you are engaging with your peers, but are you actually contributing? Are you writing blogs? Are you answering forum questions? Are you adding value to the debate? Are you involved in creating conversation about the future of your profession? By actively doing these things you are demonstrating your skills and working to build your networks, contacts and professional community.
- Where can I receive the best quality of learning? As you would know, not all training is created equally. Make sure that you maximize the value of your investment in time and money by training with a reputable company.
- How do I choose from the courses on offer? There are many training vendors who compete in the same career streams. When trying to determine which courses to select, consider whether there are positive or negative reviews from previous students. Also, check whether there is a recognized certification path attached to the courses. Remember, certification is much more than a piece of paper — it carries considerable weight in the eyes of employers who are looking for demonstrated expertise.
- Is my training helping me to achieve my career goals? Take some time to map out your career goals. Check that the training you are planning to undertake helps you move closer to your desired, future role — in many cases, training vendors will provide you with a career planning tool to help your career planning process.
- How can I build my skills when I can’t take the time off? In the life of a busy professional, time is of the essence. Very few of us can afford to spend weeks away from our clients. Quality e-Learning is now recognized as a viable format for all forms of learning. Its flexible delivery format means that you can learn where and when you need to.
Remember, no one is going to care about your career as much as you. Putting some time into answering these questions will help you manage your professional skills now and in the future.