There’s no denying that the pandemic has made recent years much harder for all of us. Obtaining and maintaining employment is even more crucial now. If we want to ensure we keep our jobs or gain better job opportunities, we need to continuously strive to do better and improve our work performance to become a more skilled worker. One effective way to improve our personal and professional skills is by using a professional development plan.

What Is a Professional Development Plan?

A professional development plan (PDP) is a written document that guides us towards becoming a more valuable employee and skilled worker. It outlines ways we can improve our skills based on our current position or abilities. A PDP is also a form of self-assessment. It helps us evaluate ourselves, set professional goals, and figure out how to achieve them.

Benefits of a Professional Development Plan

Creating a professional development plan can help us identify skills we need to develop to move forward in our current careers.

Other benefits of making a professional development plan include:

  • Provide us with clear, actionable goals
  • Increase our motivation
  • Track our progress
  • Reignite our sense of purpose
  • Contribute to better mental wellbeing
  • Maximize our potential
  • Understand and enhance our strengths
  • Identify and address our weaknesses

Person at a desk with one hand on laptop and one hand writing in a notebook with glasses on the tableCreating a Professional Development Plan

There are many ways to create a professional development plan to become a more skilled worker. It can be as simple as writing it down manually, creating a structured table, or simply typing a word document. There is no strict format for making a PDP so we can choose one that can help us understand it better.

What’s important is the content of the PDP. There are five basic steps in creating a professional development plan.

Conduct an Unbiased Self-Assessment

The first step is to evaluate ourselves. This means examining our knowledge, professional and transferable skills, habits or interests, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s important to take stock of any available resources at our disposal. We should also take this opportunity to assess where we are in our careers and where we want to go.

Identify Specific and High-Quality Career Goals

The next step is to identify specific, doable, and high-quality career goals. Here are some questions that can guide us:

  • What does success mean to you?
  • What activities do you love when doing your current job?
  • Are you satisfied with what you are doing?
  • Where or what do you see yourself doing in the next year? Three years? Five years? Even ten years?

When setting goals, it’s important to make them SMART. This means goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Additionally, it’s better to make fewer, higher-quality career goals than many goals that would only stress and bog us down.

Gather Information and Strategize

Once we have our goals, it’s time to research and strategize. Our professional development will depend on the strategies we choose to follow to achieve our goals. Experiential strategies often work best as they give us valuable hands-on experience and allow us to develop new skills while improving old ones.

Strategies we can explore include:

  • Additional training
  • Enrolling in a workshop or skill course
  • Finding a mentor
  • Taking on more responsibilities or new projects
  • Researching

Group of 5 individuals sitting at a table discussing professional developmentFind Resources to Help Enhance Growth

We need to find professional resources to help us grow and improve as workers. The resources we need will depend on our goals and the strategies we decide on.

For instance, if we decide we need additional training or want to enroll in courses, helpful resources include refresher programs, conferences, and webinars. If our goal is to expand our professional network, then career events and trade fairs would be our best resource.

Develop a Timeline for Achieving Goals

Make sure to develop a timeline for achieving your goals. Set different timelines for different goals, such as one to three months for short-term goals. Long-term ones can be for a year or more. Having a timeline allows us to measure our progress. We can see whether we are meeting our targets or need to update our strategies. A professional development plan is a continuous work in progress. As time passes and we improve, our goals and strategies should change as well.

Looking For More Professional Development Tips?

Looking for more tips on professional development and becoming a more skilled worker? Visit VOC Associates for our selection of workplace tips! Contact us through our website or by calling (216) 496-6884 today!

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