Professional Development – Your Ticket to a Career Change?

For many of those contentedly employed and satisfied with their career trajectory, professional development is a Nice to Have — something that would be nice should enough time and funding present itself.

However, for those seeking career change, gaining new skills may be a Need to Have – or at the very least something to help position you optimally and open doors that otherwise would stay shut.

The Desire for Career Change is Strong AND Common

Not surprisingly, as an Executive Resume Writer, I don’t run into super satisfied job seekers too often. In fact, the majority are unhappily employed, and many are contemplating career change.

What IS surprising, however, is that my anecdotal experience is backed up by two March 2017 Harris Poll surveys, commissioned by the University of Phoenix, revealing that 61% of those surveyed have considered changing their careers, and almost 40% are likely to change in the next 5 years.

Also read: 5 Ways to Continue Professional Development Without Getting Another Degree

The Case for Professional Development

According to the survey, 94% of employers feel training and “upskilling” are critical to their organization’s success, and almost 3/4 of all employees (71%) feel their job demands them to continually learn new skills.

Given these figures, my take is that for those looking to make a career 180, professional development may pave the way, especially given the survey’s good news – the fact that 20% of employers surveyed are likely to hire those looking to make a career change!

Also read: Professional Development: 3 Education Options for Any Executive

Overcoming Obstacles to Make Training a Priority

Time and money often stop the most eager career changer dead in their tracks. I faced these hurdles myself as I transitioned years ago from stay-at-home mom to freelance writer into full-time resume writing.

Taking time to improve your skills requires careful planning, and may require you to burn some midnight oil. I recommend approaching training like going on vacation (minus the leisure!). Make the time by figuring out what tasks are urgent, which can wait, and which can be delegated to others.

Allocating funds is also a challenge, and for those in the gig economy, time spent in professional development means no money in their pockets. Consider setting up a personal “upskilling” fund where you set aside a few dollars each week. You may be surprised at how fast your savings will pay for this.

If professional conferences are just too rich for your blood or too taxing on your calendar, consider cheaper/shorter training in the form of webinars, TED Talks, Podcasts, etc.

The ROI of Professional Development

In addition to cultivating a new skill that will help to align your experience more closely with your career aspirations, professional development can yield much more.

Speaking again from my own experience, participating in webinars and the annual National Resume Writer’s association conference expanded my knowledge, and my professional network, exponentially, and gave me the additional skills and certifications I needed to change careers and grow my business.

If you suspect a career change may be in your future, perhaps the real question is what are you waiting for? Start exploring opportunities to broaden your skillset NOW! Personally – I’m counting the days until this year’s NRWA conference in Chicago!

About the Author

Virginia Franco, NCRW, CPRW is the founder of Virginia Franco Resumes which offers customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker.