How Professional Development Helped Me Take My Career Services to the Next Level
By Skye Berry-Burke.
Back in 2008, I was searching for professional development opportunities. I wanted to learn new techniques to help clients gain confidence in themselves and their abilities so that they could re-enter the workforce.
Professional Development Defined
Wikipedia defines professional development as “learning to earn or maintain professional credentials such as academic degrees to formal coursework, conferences and informal learning opportunities situated in practice. It has been described as intensive and collaborative, ideally incorporating an evaluative stage. There are a variety of approaches to professional development, including consultation, coaching, communities of practice, lesson study, mentoring, reflective supervision and technical assistance.”
For me, the term professional development is anything that helps me learn something new in my field of interest. This includes books, courses, newsletters, conferences, and more.
What I Found During My Search
My search for professional development opportunities was challenging. There was not much Canadian content available on how to write a better resume for clients with barriers. That is, until I stumbled upon Career Professionals of Canada (CPC).
Recognizing the value that my membership in CPC could have for my clients, I eagerly asked the owner of the education center I was working for to pay for my membership into the organization. When my request was declined, I decided to pay for my own CPC membership, and applied for my Certified Resume Strategist (CRS) designation at the same time. Joining CPC was my first step in what has become the most amazing career journey!
After completing the CRS, I was excited to apply new-found resume writing skills and best practices in my work with clients. What started as just a way to help my clients succeed in their careers ended up taking me down a road I never anticipated. I noticed that every time I sat down with a client to help guide the client in the resume writing process, I felt alive. I quickly realized that resume writing, and the joy of helping people find their strength and passion through the written word, invigorated me.
How Professional Development Led Me into Entrepreneurship
In 2008, I didn’t even realize there was a world of resume writers out there. I didn’t know it could become a career until I started to build a network of colleagues and friends within CPC. I noticed how many worked for themselves, at home or in an office. I was intrigued… how could someone write a resume from a home computer for another person miles away?
In 2010, I left my employer and started to work on creating my own career services company while raising my newborn son. I participated in all that CPC had to offer, including tele-networking seminars and reading the weekly newsletter. I wanted to learn as much as I possibly could about the resume writing and career services industry so that I could help my clients (mostly friends at that time) in the best possible way.
Every time I participated in professional development activities my confidence increased. I was charging minimal fees back then, approximately $50 per resume. By the time 2012 rolled around, I had received my Certified Interview Strategist (CIS) and Certified Employment Strategist (CES) designations and participated in numerous professional development activities and tele-networking seminars. I officially launched my website and increased my prices to $250 per resume with ease.
I didn’t stop there. I became a member of other organizations and took advantage of their professional development offerings. Some of these opportunities included e-summits, courses, online classes, etc., and with each I learned something new.
Taking My Career Service to the Next Level
I signed up to participate in one of the first CPC Mastermind Groups and registered for CPC’s first CAREERPRO 2015 conference. I took so much away from both of these events that I completely re-branded my business. I invested in and updated my website, increased my prices (again!), and knew my worth as a Career Professional.
I learned strategies for package pricing and remaining authentic in my service and in a way that works for my selling skills. Social media was no longer a scary monster buzzing on my phone; rather, it was the marketing tool that would help my business get noticed.
The best part about it all is that I have a network of colleagues and friends from across Canada and the world that I can relate to. It can be challenging as an entrepreneur to find like-minded people to chat with, but with membership in CPC, this challenge becomes obsolete.
Along with meeting like-minded colleagues from across Canada, by participating in live chats, tele-networking seminars, Mastermind groups, and the CAREERPRO conference, through professional development you will gain confidence in yourself and your offerings.
Where Professional Development has Taken Me Today
I remain an active participant in CPC activities and continue to participate in professional development opportunities from around the world. I have confidence in my abilities as an award-winning resume writer and have been published in numerous resume writing resources.
I can sell the value my business offers and have very few challenges drumming up new business. My prices have increased from stand-alone offerings to packages that range from $397 to $1,324. I have clients from across Canada, the US, and abroad.
The networking gained from these professional development opportunities has helped me secure a wonderful referral network from qualified industry professionals, ensuring my business stands strong during slow periods. What was once a hobby based on friends needing a resume or career advice has sky-rocketed into a profitable business that generates 5 to 10 leads per week.
The Take-Home Message
Whether you are self-employed or not, the value of professional development is worth the investment. Whether it be reading books, taking a course, or participating in tele-networking seminars or live chats, know that you can’t go wrong.
You’ll walk-away with added confidence in your industry and abilities, make friends, and collaborate with like-minded professionals from across Canada while setting yourself up as an expert in your trade.
And while you are thinking about professional development opportunities, why not register for this year’s online CAREERPRO Conference?
Your investment in this virtual conference is sure to pay off. There is a line-up of excellent speakers and a plethora of discussion topics that are sure to peak everyone’s interest, no matter what your area of expertise in the Career Services industry.
Hope to see you at CAREERPRO 2016!