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4 top tips for CPD in your career (and how to strike the right balance)

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

Finding the time to dedicate entirely towards Continuous Professional Development (CPD) during a busy working life is a common challenge that most professionals will face during their career.

Whether it’s client meetings, constant deadlines or an ever-growing list of administrative tasks to tackle, workload has to take priority. As a result, professional development is often put on the backburner. While this won’t impact your career hugely in the short-term, the long-term result can often be a lack of progression or even a limitation to your capacity to do your job effectively.

Achieving the right balance between self-improvement and day-to-day commitments can often seem impossible… but for most people, it just requires finding the right approach. Investing time into CPD doesn’t have to take up permanent residence on your ‘to-do’ list, but you may want to consider the following tips:

Make learning a strategic initiative

Rather than treating your own development as a “should”, treat it as a “must.” After all, you’re not just learning for the sake of it. Whether you’re working towards a promotion, are eager to train in a new profession, or simply wish to be regarded as a true expert in your field, your education should be treated as a strategic initiative.

From here, set yourself some smaller ‘sub-goals’ that will feel more manageable i.e. completing an hour extra of learning in a week or taking on a new subject. This will help to keep you focussed, and will allow you to gain a sense of achievement from the learning.

Choose a flexible course that works for you

Often, the decision not to enroll in a CPD course comes from the assumption that the course will involve a solid week in a classroom environment, a series of lengthy seminars or a digital click-through course that must be completed within a certain time-frame.

Lifelong learning is not just about formal training - it can take place through a wide range of activities in various contexts. If time is an issue, you may opt for an engaging online course that provides flexible training designed to fit around a busy schedule.

This will allow you to have complete control over the pace of your learning - whether you prefer cramming it all into a few days, or spacing it out across several weeks.

Attend a face to face workshop

While you may prefer a completely online approach, a face-to-face workshop can often be a great way to gain feedback from a subject matter expert.

As well as this, a workshop allows you to practice your newly-learned skills in a safe environment, and discuss your progress with colleagues or likeminded professionals on the course. Of course, certain factors such as class sizes and quality of the teacher can impact on the quality of the experience, so choose your workshop wisely.

Many organisations offer dedicated study leave, either paid or unpaid, and dependent on the relevance of the course to your own career path.

Put your skills to practice

Apply any new ideas or skills you have learned as soon as possible, and make sure to draw up a Personal Development Plan.

This document details the action you will take as a result of the training - not only providing you with a sense of accomplishment from your own success, but also gives your manager clear evidence as to why you are deserving of that promotion or alternate workload.

CPD is a vital element to any career path – without it, we can often find ourselves limited by the scope of our own roles, missing out on new trends or ways of working. From the perspective of an employer, it not only demonstrates exactly the right attitude that is searched for extensively in jobseekers, but it gives that extra motivation to increase remuneration in accordance with skills.