You probably won’t see it listed as a requirement in a job description. It’s also not likely to show up as a trait of strength on your résumé – but on both counts, it should.
What is CPD?
CPD is Continual Professional Development. Without it, the best resumes are nothing more than a laundry list of experience doing this or doing that. While experience is good, and for the most part is responsible for getting us from point A to point B, it inherently implies ‘the past’. Continual Professional Development suggests furtherance, persistence, and maintenance.
Commitment to CPD is a smart way to increase your marketability to potential employers. It demonstrates that you are taking an active role in improving your skill sets, cognizant of reachable thresholds in your profession, and someone who takes their chosen line of work seriously.
Many learning surveys indicate that employees who demonstrate mindfulness towards their personal development are more likely to be viewed as highly motivated and engaged. Openness to learning suggests flexibility and adaptability with a tendency to bring an attitude of continuous improvement to the workplace, which is all very appealing to current and potential employers.
How’s this for a new line item on your résumé?
– Committed to Continual Professional Development.
What does it mean to be committed to CPD?
Fact #1: Whether we realize it or not, our skills are under evaluation by our employers, our co-workers, even our friends, on a daily basis.
Fact#2: Based on these assessments, at any point in time, we could become candidates either for promotion or for dismissal.
Making the decision to improve our performance is an investment in ourselves that improves our employability. Doing this on continual basis is habit forming and hence, commitment becomes inevitable.
By deciding to ‘commit’ to stretch and challenge ourselves on a regular schedule, be it monthly, quarterly or even bi-annually, we establish a continuum that can’t help but yield measurable results by forcing us to grow and thrive professionally.
Where to start
There are countless ways to achieve this without breaking the bank or surrendering what’s left of our day. There may be some level of sacrifice involved, like swapping out a monthly Starbuck’s budget for an affordable one-off workshop. Attending a Live online class or self-paced study course might extend our workday by an hour or so for a few weeks. Extended course work will cost a bit more in time and effort, but with either of these options, the benefits of learning something new and meeting other professionals who share our interests, far outweigh any minor inconvenience.
Here are a few simple awareness exercises that can help identify opportunity areas for professional development:
- Performance Awareness
No matter how strong you believe your performance to be – it can always be better. Whether you are just starting out as a business analyst or have more than a few years under your belt, what knowledge areas do you sometimes struggle with or have not had enough exposure to as a BA? If you’re having trouble identifying this for yourself, think about past performance reviews or talk to your manager and coworkers. Although the workplace can be an extremely competitive learning environment, never think twice about seeking advice from colleagues that are more experienced, or anyone in your circle, whose skills or career may inspire you.
- Job Market Awareness
While we’re busy with the day-to-day work of a full-time job, we tend to lose interest and sight of the ever-changing job market beyond our office walls. Stay on top of trending needs by paying attention to the job boards. Run a search based on roles similar to your current position or better still – a title you have in mind for your next role. What are the job descriptions and qualification requirements? Read these descriptions carefully, and then ask yourself if you have what they’re looking for. If not, how wide is the gap? Is it a simple matter of some additional education or exposure?
- Industry Awareness
Whether or not you have a certification that requires an ongoing accumulation of professional development credits, make it your business to stay well informed when it comes to the field of business analysis and peripheral career tracks. Sheer common sense dictates that we should always be aware if new doctrines, versions, or extension amendments related to the BABOK guide occur. Likewise, you can stay up to date with industry standards and insights by searching relative web sites, attending industry events like IIBA chapter meetings, registering for workshops or performing your own research through various means. Availability of free webinars, online coursework, and discussion forums makes it more convenient than ever to stay in tune with the industry and learn something new at the same time.
- Soft Skills Awareness
Professional development isn’t limited to learning new software applications or methodologies. How are your people management skills? Are you confident when it comes to communicating or handling conflict in the work place? How would you score yourself on emotional intelligence? More importantly, how would others score you? These soft skills are critical to promotion and success in the corporate world. There are countless books dedicated to these subjects, but one-on-one coaching, workshops, and courses dedicated to communication in the workplace, are particularly effective training methods that can help you improve on these skills.
Remember, strategies and missions in the corporate world are ever changing. Change can come by way of adjustment to external influencers such as new technologies, customer demand, or updated government regulations. Alternatively, as some of us have learned first-hand, an arrival of a new CEO armed with a different vision for the future, will often thrust change upon our work landscape– sometimes with devastating outcomes for the workforce.
Committing to the habit of continual professional development requires time and energy, and should frequently take you out of your comfort zone. Most importantly, investing in yourself is the single most essential thing you can do to remain marketable in tough job markets, improve your opportunities for advancement, and minimize your risk during company layoffs.
Take charge of your future and commit to CPD.