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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Simple Tips for Professional Development

Simple Tips for Professional Development

This is always an interesting time of year for me.  Typically there are a number of things going on that cause me to be quite introspective.  The year is winding down, people are starting to take vacation, year-end assessments are being performed and everyone is taking time to reflect on the year that was.  For me, I found myself thinking a lot about my team and my career.  It’s not surprising that one of the things at the forefront of my mind has been professional development.  When we talk about professional development, it’s easy to focus on the mechanics of what we do.  It’s also important.  Staying on top of modern techniques and tools is imperative if you want to be a true professional.  With that said, it’s important that you understand that when you think about your professional development there are a number of things outside of the “X’s and O’s” that are important.  Here are some of the things that you want to think about if you truly want to improve and advance your career.  Each point could be a full topic to explore but for now, let’s take a look at a high-level overview.  

Take charge of your own professional development

My entire career trajectory changed once I understood this concept.  I cannot emphasize how important it really is.  The reality is that you and you alone are responsible for your own career development.  One of the primary mistakes that I see young professionals make is waiting for their manager or some senior member of the team to lay out a step by step guide to professional development.  Now that’s not to say that your manager doesn’t play an important role.  If you have a good manager they will take interest in your growth and help you identify opportunities that will give you exposure to the experiences or skills that you need to grow.  However, I have a secret for you - your manager loves it when you take initiative, accept responsibility, and achieve things without being told to do so. If you are observant and pay attention to what is going on in your space it’s possible to identify “pain points” for your company.  This is a great opportunity to step forward, present a potential solution, and get a big win.  I found that while I always had helpful managers, no one could drive me forward as much as I could when I took responsibility for my own professional evolution.  

Begin to think of yourself as a brand

I could talk about this forever and there are so many concepts that contribute to this.  It’s tough to summarize but the foundation is that how people perceive you is important.  This perception is affected by what you do, as well as how you do it.  Simply put, your brand is what people think of you when you’re not around.  You want to focus on your performance as well as exhibiting positive and successful behaviors.  These behaviors are an important in determining what it’s like to work with you as well as your ability to influence.  In order for your personal brand to resonate with people, you need to find key differentiators that keep you top of mind to your colleagues and leaders.  You can do this by establishing yourself as a subject matter expert in an area, taking on projects that give you high visibility, creating a personal trademark, and daring to be creative.  Make your focus on doing things  that draw attention to you in a positive way.   Speaking of which...

Don’t keep yourself a secret

One of the things that helped me the most with the idea of my personal brand was a book entitled “Be Your Own Best Publicist” written by Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper.  There is a chapter in the book called Toot Your Own Horn (but Not Too Loudly).  It talks about accepting the fact that you have things to learn and being humble while understanding that you have to play a part in increasing people’s awareness of you and your skills.  Sometimes this is as simple as showing energy, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude every day.  In all reality, it’s not that simple.  Openly communicating your accomplishments, growth opportunities, and goals is critically important.  Especially when it comes to the leaders and people in your organization that can act as your advocates.  Do you know who should know about your desire to improve and some of your long term goals?  Everyone.  If you let people know what you’re trying to achieve and show a sincere passion for achieving those goals you would be surprised how many people are willing to help you get there or offer advice.  If presented the right way, these conversations show initiative and can make a very positive impression.  It’s also important that people know what you’ve accomplished and that you get credit for what you’ve done.  People don’t know what they don’t know.  If you present your accomplishments in a way that reflects what you learned throughout those experiences and how what you’ve learned can be applied to future endeavors, it can be very effective.  

Get comfortable being uncomfortable

Not to overstate the obvious, but nothing changes until something changes.  Simple concept, but not a concept that a lot of people think about when they think about their career.  If you are staying within your comfort zone and doing the same things that you’ve always done, then there is little opportunity to learn.  As I look back at my career there is little doubt to me that it has been the toughest times, the times where I felt like I was really getting beat up that have contributed the most to my growth.  It’s during those times where you’re truly given an opportunity to learn and stretch yourself.  Challenge yourself to dive into areas that are unfamiliar and I think you will be pleasantly surprised at what you can accomplish and what you will take away from tough experiences.  

Look for opportunities to learn

Never stop learning.  Once you’ve done that, you’ve said to the world that “I know everything that I need to know.”  The truth is that none of us will ever be to the point where we can afford to stop learning.  Training, workshops, personal development can seem a little tedious.  At the same time, it’s so important to keep picking up things that you didn’t know the day before.  This past year I’ve done a lot of that.  I now know how to do things that I didn’t have exposure to a year ago.  Not only will this help as you go through your career, accomplishing things in new areas can be very rewarding on a personal level.  

my photo.jpgWill Maurer is currently living his dream as the Global Sourcing Manager for General Motors. He believes that Talent Acquisition is the ultimate team sport.  

You can find more articles from Will at and he will be presenting at the Spring ERE conference in San Diego.   The views expressed here are his alone and do not reflect the opinion of his employer.  


  1. I think this was a nice post to develop ourselves. So from my point of view it's is an mandatory thing to be minded when we are approaching for the interview process. Thank you for posting this and please keep update like this.

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  2. Thanks for sharing the Simple Tips for Professional Development. Join Personal Development Training Courses to improve your Skills.

  3. Thanks for sharing such a simple tips for professional development. Life Coaches In California provides you personal as well as professional development, coaching which helps to increase retention, build confidence and increase efficiency of your organization.

  4. Thats true. One has to explore what’s actually inside his or her at initial stage of career development to get good jobs and career that is long term. Thank you for posting about it and post more.

  5. such an amazing tips you tolled us. i appreciate you