Of course your employment history and wonderful targeted achievements are important, but so too is your education and training section.

I’m reviewing CVs each day, either sent to me by new clients or enquirers or as part of a recruitment assignment. The training section is often weak.

As a recent graduate I’m interested in your degree, but as we get older much less emphasis is placed on this. What’s more important is how you keep your skills and knowledge up to date. We can’t sit back and assume that because we did a professional qualification e.g. 10 years ago that will be sufficient.

Many of us are knowledge workers and our knowledge needs keeping up to date – you can’t think of yourself as a marketing professional without knowing about social media and the impact on your profession or work in accountancy without knowing about new legislation.

That’s why I spend a substantial amount of my time and money on courses, conferences and reading.

When I see on someone’s CV that their last course attendance was several years ago I ask for more up to date examples to include, and many times I’m told their employer doesn’t see the value of professional development. They then go silent.

And they see this as a ‘good enough’ answer.

But it’s not!

You are responsible for your career

Whether we are interested in developing our career, or not, we still need to take responsibility for our career development.

We may be happy in our job, and not be planning to move on.


We never know when we may need to get another job, and spending time on professional development should help make us a preferred candidate. Sometimes a new manager will want to bring in their own people or look down on us if all we do is our job and don’t look broader than that.

We never know when we may have to compete against those who are more recently qualified.

And sometimes we have had enough and want to do something new, so undertaking some study can contribute to making the move.

Don’t blame your employer for your lack of professional development

Yes, it’s nice if your employer will pay for you to attend a training course or go to a conference but if not you need to take responsibility yourself. You could

  • Find and pay to go to a conference.
  • Study for a professional qualification part time.
  • Do relevant reading of journals and online articles.
  • Take an active involvement in one or more LinkedIn groups.

There are so many ways to develop yourself:

  • I love TED talks – http://www.ted.com/
  •  Find courses through the Open University – http://www.open.edu/openlearn/about-openlearn/try
  •  Find courses via EdX – https://www.edx.org/course-list
  •  You may find a course through Udemy – https://www.udemy.com/courses/
  •  And there are so many MOOCs available through this link – http://www.mooc-list.com/
  •  Grovo is a good way of learning professional skills via video, you complete an online short questionnaire and it suggests courses to complete http://www.grovo.com/


You can also read the materials supplied by your organisation. Lucy was disappointed with her performance review marking, she was marked down on knowledge of the organisation. We spoke about this in our coaching session and there is a mass of internal communication. Lucy has carefully printed and put it in a folder – to read one day but had never got around to reading. She’s now going to spend at least 1 hour a week on reviewing this type of material. She’s also going to get more involved in cross functional teams.

Before you get carried away … think about what you want to spend your valuable time, and possibly money on.

Do you want to remain a valuable employee, want to get ready for a promotion or similar job elsewhere or start preparing to move to something new?

Client Examples

Here’s some examples from clients and how they are now developing themselves. They had all booked a Career MOT with me to review their career, and check if anything needed attention. Let me know if you too would like a 90 minute career MOT session.

Clients have different reasons for undertaking development

  1. It could be for interest – that’s why Laura is taking history and photography courses. This is less about development for her job and more about keeping her brain alive.


  1. Adam wants to progress in finance so for him taking professional qualifications are needed. He’s qualified enough for his current role but needs to study further if he wants to progress. So he’s investing his own money and time in taking the CIMA qualification. It will help when later he seeks a job elsewhere, and there may still be a possibility in his own company. We’ve spoken about once he passes his first exam to talk to his boss and his boss’s boss about what he’s learnt, how it can help in his job and the benefits to the organisation in sponsoring him. It might happen.


  1. Carla has outgrown her job and is looking for a new challenge, she’s well qualified in her discipline but now wants to widen into a new area. A look at her CV shows that all her experience and qualifications relate to the hotel and catering industry. She’s had a senior role but never got specific business training, never considered an MBA or shorter business course. Either would have helped her to get the job she wants.


  1. Too late Phil realised he should have studied for a marketing qualification. He’d progressed in his organisation based on experience but now he’s made redundant he’s having to compete with much younger, and better qualified candidates.


3 months till Christmas, how will you develop yourself?

Let me know what you plan to do through a comment on this blog page.

Brought to you by Denise Taylor, career coach and chartered psychologist with Amazing People. Denise is regularly featured as an expert in the press and is the author of 7 books including ‘How To Get A Job In A Recession’

Published On: September 21st, 2014 / Categories: Career Management /

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