Author: Lawrence Dong

Lawrence Dong is a result-oriented professional with 15 years of experience in Business Analysis, Project Delivery, and Leadership. He has been certified in CBAP, Scrum Master, PMP, and ITIL. Having workers across various industries including Banking, Logistics, Government, Healthcare, Superannuation, and Telecommunications, Lawrence is experienced in creating fit-for-purpose solutions via his exposure to industry best practices. To give back to the community, Lawrence has volunteered as a Board Director of IIBA Australia in the past, and as a long-time mentor through non-for-profit organizations.

Own Your Own Professional Development

This year (2022) is the best time to talk about something interesting – that is professional development. Why do I think you may be interested in this topic? Well, a recent (Sep 2021) survey conducted by HR Platform Employment Hero [1] via about 1000 survey respondents found that 48 percent of Australian workers planned to look for a new job in the next six months. That’s 1 in 2 people Down Under, a huge number, isn’t it? No wonder people in the US are talking about the Great Resignation[2]!

If you are still reading this article, you are potentially interested in investing your time, energy, and money in your professional development, so that you can seize the chance to progress your career sooner. You may want to ask me, “where should I start?” Well, Richard Branson once said: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” So, my first advice is for you to check if your employer’s career paths and progression programs are in place that you can take advantage of. It is probably the easiest way for you.

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However, if the existing solution is not in place, the next best solution is to have a private chat with your people manager, see if he or she can create a bespoke solution for you, based on your circumstances. Check out this article from the job search portal Indeed and follow the 9 steps[3] to prepare your talking points before your meeting with your boss to show your commitment.

My personal experiences have been that most employers do care about their people’s career plans, especially when you have made consistent and visible contributions to their business. However, I admit there are organizations where staff hasn’t been provided with sufficient career progression opportunities. If unfortunately, this has been your experience, keep reading and I have a piece of good news for you – you can own your own professional development.

Here is how (3-Steps Plan):

  1. Set your career goal – If you like what you do, do you want to work at a more senior level? If you don’t like what you are doing, use your imagination superpower to determine your dream jobs. Talk to your family and friends to understand your strengths and talk to a trusted industry connection to understand which roles will match your strengths.
  2. Analyze the gaps – How can you get there? What skills will be required from your future job? What skills have you already got? What are the gaps? This step may sound difficult, but there is a short path – check out your current & future jobs on seek.com and write down the required skills.
  3. Bridge the gaps – Prioritise the skill gaps based on importance, urgency, and logical sequence. Now you may ask, is there a learning model that I can follow to upskill myself? The answer is yes! Let me tell you a bit of the 70-20-10 learning framework.
    • 70% of your new skills can be learned from doing. You can ask for new tasks at work, apply for a secondment or participate in professional volunteering. These activities can help you accumulate the required experience for your future.
    • 20% of your new skills can be learned from others. Coaching, mentoring, and attending industry events are widely available options to you.
    • 10% of your new skills can be learned from formal learning. Courses and certifications, if chosen wisely, will give you a decent return on investment.

To help you best bridge your skill and experience gaps, I have created a 1-pager diagram for your kick-start. It is based on my own professional development experience and the successful mentoring sessions that I have provided to my mentees in the last 7 years.

If you follow the 3 steps plan, make sure you set up regular checkpoints to reflect your progress. Adjust your approach as required. If you show your commitment, I don’t see why you cannot achieve your goal after a reasonable period of time. So, I wish you good luck and be part of your own success in the year ahead.

Reference:

  1. Australia’s version of the ‘great resignation’ revealed as staff swap jobs, Sydney Morning Herald, https://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace/australia-s-version-of-the-great-resignation-revealed-as-staff-swap-jobs-20211111-p5984f.html
  2. Who Is Driving the Great Resignation?, Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2021/09/who-is-driving-the-great-resignation
  3. How To Talk To Your Boss About Career Advancement in 9 Steps, Indeed, https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-talk-to-boss-about-career-advancement