Professional Development: Don’t Neglect Yourself!


As career practitioners, it’s vital that we take the time to keep updated on industry trends, the status of the labour market, available training courses, and other leading-edge resources, but our busy schedules often get in the way, making it tough to prioritize our own professional development. It’s key to stay on top of trends so that we can demonstrate to our clients that we “walk the talk.” After all, don’t we regularly encourage and coach our clients to keep their own knowledge and skills current? When it comes to your own professional development, remember — don’t neglect yourself!

Focus on you for a change! Ask yourself when your downtime is (and I know many will say, “What downtime?”). Seriously, though, carve out some time to reflect and think about your professional development or business goals. The next step, of course, is to make those development plans a reality.

For me, the summer months are a slower work period. I include reminders  and to-do lists in my calendar to revisit websites, videos, and articles that I have saved over the last few months. I take advantage of this downtime to focus my attention on these resources and determine if there is anything new I can incorporate into the career development sessions and workshops that I conduct.

Professional Development Opportunities

Some of my favourite sources of information are the CPC “Career Connections” newsletter, CERIC newsletter, and labour market information websites (local, provincial and federal). Another useful federal government link I came across is the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS), which includes a wealth of labour market information projected out to 2028.

Topics that I’m actively researching this summer include: workplace diversity and inclusion strategies, skills employers look for, assessment tools, the gig economy, and social media hiring practices.

Besides updating information in the materials you share with clients, use your downtime to plan for your own professional development. Are there any new training programs that interest you? Some ideas might be to enrol in any of the CPC certification courses such as the Certified Work-Life Strategist (CWS)Certified Resume Strategist (CRS), Certified Interview Strategist (CIS), Certified Employment Strategist (CES), or Certified Career Strategist (CCS). Other CPC courses, such as Résumé Development for Applicant Tracking Systems or Career Development Foundations are ideal choices if you’d like to expand your skill set. Another thought might be to become certified as an administrator of an assessment tool such as MBTI.

Outside of the realm of career development, there are plenty of other relevant learning opportunities. Free online courses on social media, web design, or web analytics provide useful skills, readily transferable to a career professional’s practice.

Don’t forget about books! I love opening a new book, anticipating the knowledge it will bring me. One of the books I have on my desk right now is Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, which includes reflection activities useful for both clients and career development practitioners. I’m also interested in diving into one or more of the books recommended by the National Résumé Writers’ Association.

Call to Action

Write your professional development goals down and put a timeline on them. If nothing else, carve out bits of time to do research so that you are confident you’re on top of trends, whether that research is done daily, weekly, monthly, or periodically throughout the year. Put your plans in your calendar to hold yourself accountable.

Better yet, I’d like to set a challenge for all CPC members. Choose a topic you’re going to learn more about and then write an article about it. Share your new knowledge and insights with other career development professionals by submitting your article for publication in CPC’s Career Connections eNewsletter. Let’s help each other stay accountable to continuous learning!

Tanya Kett is a Career Counsellor at McMaster University’s Student Success Centre in Hamilton, Ontario, where she supports students in their career and educational development. She specializes in the exploration of career options and further education opportunities, job search strategies, and employment coaching. Tanya is trained as a Career Development Practitioner, Certified Professional Coach, Certified Résumé Strategist (CRS), and earned her Masters of Education in Post-Secondary Studies in April 2020.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash


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What a jam-packed article full of rich resources and a great reminder to take care of our own professional development. I love the challenge you’ve issued, Tanya. Here’s my goal. I’m going to learn more about career development for elementary school-aged children and send an article in for the CPC newsletter before the end of 2018. Thanks for the push!

Thanks for your kind words Maureen, glad it has given you some inspiration to set new goals. Career practitioners need to model behaviour for our clients, our actions speak louder than words. It helps to build rapport too, demonstrating that we are always in development, just like our clients.