What “Professional Development” Really Tells Employers

I was recently at a conference of meeting professionals providing a resume review workshop, and made a stunning discovery: Relatively few people listed the words, “Professional Development” on their resume under their EDUCATION header. The irony is that these are the people who plan the very conferences and educational seminars that we go to in order to earn ‘professional development’ credentials.

Talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees!

Professional development is the terminology used to describe any additional educational training or background you’ve gained through attending conferences, conventions, seminars, workshops, trainings, continuing education classes, industry certifications or corporate universities. You should NOT use a section header saying, “Trainings” or “Seminars” or something along those lines… Instead use the words “Professional Development” – that is the correct term and descriptor for any education that extends beyond a formal, degree/certificate institutional level.

Professional development single-handedly tells employers this message: “Here’s what I’ve done to INCREASE my job knowledge, HONE my skills to be a better worker, and BE CURRENT on industry trends.”

If you don’t have anything to list in this section, you’d better start signing up for classes. This is a great section to help break away from the rest of the pack in this competitive marketplace. Having something under “Professional Development” is a good way to deliver a subliminal message to employers: I work hard, I care about my work and how I perform it, and I want to do a good job.

The good news for unemployed workers is that there are federal stimulus funds available to help pay for professional development and educational studies. You’d need to check with your local employment department to find out about qualification details.

Otherwise, if you are fortunate to have the resources either with your current employer or personally, then this is the time to start targeting those classes which will enhance your professional credentials. What kinds of skills can you add to your repertoire to make yourself even more indispensable? How can you make yourself a better resource to an employer?

A perfect example was a gentleman in one of the resume writing classes I taught recently. He had lost his job as a forklift driver, but didn’t let the moss grow. He kept reading trade/industry journals to keep track of trends, and that’s how he found out about a new generation of forklift that just came out. He had previously been trained/certified on the manual (hydraulic) lever-operated forklifts. The new model has a joystick to operate it- which required a different certification. So this gentleman took the steps to go get certified in the new model, which doubled his employability to prospective companies. Good thinking!

Keeping abreast of current industry trends, bringing new ideas back to the office and sharing information are all attributes of leaders who are valued members of an organization. Don’t you want to be seen in that light?

Take the time to invest in your job knowledge. This clearly makes you stand out as a proactively engaged, inquisitive, and driven prospective employee to companies when they are reviewing resumes!