The best way to get companies to send you to workshops, pay for seminars, buy magazine subscriptions, or fund your professional society membership is to lay out the dollar return your company will get. Here are six tips for creating simple proposals that will get your company to pay for your professional development or formal education.
How to Convince Your Boss to Invest in On-the-Job Professional Development
1. Tell them about the learning opportunities that you’re interested in.
To climb to the top of the corporate ladder, you’ll need a variety of hard and soft business skills. Hard skills are those directly related to your work, such as coding or accounting or video making. Soft skills include communications, leadership, presentation, and project management competencies.
Some of the ways to upgrade your skills include:
- E-learning courses
- Night school
- Certification training
- Lunch and learns
- Trade shows
- Annual membership dues
- Trade magazine subscriptions
2. Demonstrate how these programs are helpful.
Once you’ve come up with your list, write down what makes these initiatives beneficial. The key to selling your employer on paying for your continuing education is to be able to show your boss the return on the company’s investment.
For example, taking a seminar to improve your Excel or Keynote skills might help you close more sales or land more clients. Taking an online seminar on social media marketing will help you increase lead generation. Working on your business writing skills will be important if you write sales letters, respond to RFPs, lead teams, create client proposals, or develop reports for company management.
3. Rank the skills you want to develop in order of priority.
You’ll need basic business skills early on in your career to help you move into mid-level management positions, and more complex competencies to become an executive and move into a director-level or C-suite position.
Rank the skills you’ve decided to develop in order of when you need to acquire them. Do this by looking at the next job you want, reading job descriptions and finding out what gaps you have in your skill set.
Next, list continuing education programs you want to complete and group them into three categories: short-term, mid-range, and long-term. Once you’ve done that, estimate the cost to your company for each. You don’t want to hit up your company for thousands of dollars to attend an elite leadership retreat as your first request for training, so try to keep things in perspective before you raise the issue with a manager.
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4. Explain how your professional development will benefit your company.
Now you’re ready to start writing your proposal. When you ask your company to make an investment in you, make sure you focus on why it will benefit the company, not just you personally.
For example, if you’re requesting a software training workshop, let the company know how it will help you do more tasks, reduce the amount of time you spend on certain projects, decrease errors, and improve your productivity. If you want to take an online course in marketing, tell the company that it will help you create better campaigns that increase sales leads and conversions. If you want to attend a trade show, let your boss know that you will look for products, services, and vendors that will help the company reduce its costs, increase profit margins, and/or improve customer satisfaction.
5. Forecast an ROI.
Wherever possible, show the dollar benefits to your company. If you will be more productive after a seminar or workshop, you might decrease the number of hours your department needs to hire outside vendors. If your training course will help you increase sales, give a realistic estimate of how much and explain why.
Your goal in making a proposal to your company is to show that the investment will not only pay for itself, but that over time, the company will increase its profits either through increased sales or decreased expenses.
To further sweeten the pot, offer to reimburse the company for the cost of the seminar if you leave your job in less than six months. This is usually a requirement companies will ask for, but offering it upfront lets your boss know you’re serious about improving your skills for the good of the company—not just for personal gain.
6. Make your request specific.
Be direct and tell your boss exactly what you need. Give them a flyer or link to the course, seminar, or membership organization you want them to fund. If you’ll need to take time off, tell them how much time you need and when. If there will be other associated costs, like travel, lodging, registration fees, and meals, include those in your estimate.
Whenever you submit a proposal, you also want to attach a deadline to it. This helps keep projects moving forward on schedule.
Finally, end your proposal with a recap like, “If the company will pay the $1,400 cost for this employee benefits workshop, I estimate that we will not only decrease employee benefit costs by $X, but we will also be able to offer better coverage to our staff, improve our position as an employer of choice, help with employee recruitment and retention, and reduce employee turnover and those related costs.”
You might not always be able to give your company an exact dollar cost when you make a pitch—but you should be able to provide a realistic projection on the ROI that will make your training request attractive to an employer. If you partner with a quality organization, they’ll see the value of investing in your professional development.
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