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5 Tips for Creating a Great Professional Development Plan

As the name suggests, a professional development plan is a document that lays out career goals and the ways to achieve them. Additionally, it will include an assessment of your current skill levels, education, professional experience, and areas of improvement. If this is your first time creating a professional development plan, don’t fret, as this article will serve as a step-by-step guide and answer all your questions.

This is a guest contribution from writer David Dixon.

Conduct an Honest Self-assessment

A professional development plan will only be useful if you are truthful with yourself and set the right goals. Hence, the first step will entail taking the time to assess your skills and expertise in a professional setting, which will include:

  1. Number of years of work experience under your belt

  2. Highest level of education completed

  3. Awards received for workplace performance

Completing a self-assessment will help ascertain where you currently stand and provide a roadmap for future goals. For instance, if you recognize the need for upskilling, pursuing an additional degree will become one of your goals. Similarly, you can make plans to switch to a new industry, network to make connections, and more.

Stay Up to Date on Current Trends with Business Intelligence

Looking for a fun way to keep your skills and overall understanding of the business world sharp? Our team’s podcast talks regularly about the importance of staying up to date with current trends in the business world. One great way to do this is by listing to or watching the Business Intelligence Podcast, which takes a look at the events, offers analysis, and introduces strategies to navigate the changing landscape. You can listen or watch wherever you enjoy podcasts:

Set Your Professional Development Plan Goals

Using inputs from your assessment, try to answer the following questions:

  1. What skills do you need to develop?

  2. Do you need to find a mentor?

  3. Will your current job and salary help meet retirement/investment goals?

  4. Do you want to start a business or continue working as an employee?

Once you have answers in place, it’s time to use the SMART method to set specific, measurable, accurate, realistic, and timely goals. While goal setting can be a tedious process, it’s best to invest ample time towards setting the right goal(s) rather than constantly changing your approach in the future. Following the SMART method will help you develop confidence that the objectives set are correct and will pay dividends in the future.

Devise an Action Plan

While having numerous goals is great, they cannot be pursued simultaneously. Hence a clear distinction needs to be made between goals you’ll achieve in the short and long term. For instance, a short-term goal can include expanding your network by participating in networking events, joining online groups, and attending conferences. Similarly, a long-term goal can be to land a job as a front-end developer in the next two years. This will entail completing an advanced degree/certificate and gaining some work experience.

Keep Your CV Updated

Even in today’s digital-driven world, CVs (curriculum vitae) play a key role in landing a job or being accepted into educational programs. Hence, don’t forget to keep your CV updated. This includes all new professional and personal achievements such as a job, volunteer experience, etc.

While a simple CV is still viable, using a CV template will help to stand out from the competition and make a strong first impression on potential employers/admission officers. Additionally, there are a host of professionally designed templates to choose from, which can be used to edit your CV based on the type of application.

Learn About Establishing an LLC

According to research by Zippia, 36% of the American workforce – i.e., 70.4 million workers currently work as freelancers. This number is the highest it’s ever been, and it is predicted to grow further as more and more professionals try their hand at freelancing. This number includes those working as part-time freelancers in addition to having a day job.

Read 5 Tips on Starting a Business in a Cost-Effective Way

Given the rise in freelancing, it’s important to learn about how to keep yourself protected from the risks of litigation and other freelance-related problems. As soon as you start selling a product or service, you’re legally considered a sole proprietorship which includes the risk of unlimited liability. As reported by the Management Library, this can be overcome by establishing a Limited Liability Company, which provides the benefit of limited liability and allows the owner (you) to use business expenses as tax write-offs.

The investment you make toward creating a professional development plan will pay dividends for years to come. From creating a great CV and learning about LLCs to networking and setting SMART goals, you’ll be better prepared than the competition to achieve your professional goals.

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