[PD as CD] Part 4: Accounting for Your Professional Development
Over the past three posts of the Professional Development as Career Development series, you learned about what PD is and why it’s important, you figured out what skills to focus on, and you’ve created your action plan. (If you haven’t, get on it!) In this last post of the series, we’ll talk about how to account for your new skill set on your resume, LinkedIn page, and other places where it could help you move forward in your career. Even if you’re still in the learning phase there are ways that you can leverage this to your benefit, so this last part of the series should still be useful!
The Skills section of your resume if the most obvious place to show of your professional development triumphs. In this part, you should group them by category so that the reader can easily see what you can do in each area. If you know that recruiters in your field will want to see certain things more than others, prioritize those by placing them first. For example: If you work in tech, you’d want to lead with that instead of your language skills. As I’ve said in may places (most recently my resume building course), you always want to qualify your skill levels and list only your hard skills in this section.
You should also make sure that your new skills are represented in your bullet points as well. If they are things that you learned through an on-the-job professional development opportunity, then be sure to mention it in your description of your work experiences. If the skill set was gained from an out-of-work experience, there are still ways to have it on your resume. Consider adding an Independent Projects section to account for anything that you did on your own. If you volunteered somewhere, then add a Volunteer Activities section to account for how you gained your new skills.
Your LinkedIn profile is critical to showing off your skills because it is the easiest way for recruiters to find you. Your resume only gets seen when you submit it with an application. Your LinkedIn is live 24/7. As such, it needs to be an accurate representation of your skill set at all times.
LinkedIn has a great section for skills where people in your network can endorse you for them. This is a great way for people to both say that you’re good at something and see that you’re good at something. Since the list is ranked from most endorsed to least, your new skills may get hidden at the bottom. While they will still be found, you can also ask people to endorse you for those skills so that they show up higher on your page. If you offer to do the same for them then they’re more likely to do it. This way, you can both show potential employers what you’re good at and strengthen your connection to your network at the same time. Two wins are better than one!
In addition, your LinkedIn profile is SEO optimized, meaning that whatever you list is searchable by keywords no matter where it is on your page. As such, it is recommended that you sprinkle in your new skills in as many (logical!) places as possible.
If it is allowed in your industry, you should definitely show off your knowledge and skills on a personal website. (That’s how this site started!) Your site doesn’t have to be a blog or portfolio site, although those can be helpful in establishing a professional brand or freelance career. Your personal website should be something that you can maintain, so be mindful of the format and content. It can be similar to your LinkedIn profile or provide a mix of personal and professional details.
The freedom and ownership options that a personal website provides is why you should consider creating on in addition to a LinkedIn profile (or any other social media site). Even though you can publish posts on every site, they aren’t yours. The site administrators can take them down or hide them in their algorithms, making it impossible for people to see you and recognize your expertise. This isn’t why you’ve been doing professional development! On your personal site, you can create a home base for all things you.
If you’re new to website-ing, I suggest trying out free sites before committing to something more serious. If you decide that this is something you’d like to keep up with, I highly recommend buying a domain and self-hosting your website since it’s the only way to know that it will remain live as long as you want it to be.
Depending on what you do, you can use your new skills to become involved with people who do the same things that you either do or want to do. Sites like GitHub are created for this purpose, as they allow you to collaborate on code projects with other developers. Even sites like Twitter, Reddit, and Pinterest are places to find a solid community of people with whom you can connect.
If you get confident enough in your skill set to want to teach it to others, look into teaching sites like Skillshare or Udemy so that you can share what you know and make a little money doing it! Sites like this are also useful in helping you get over any shyness or anxiety that you may have surrounding your new skills. By sharing them with other people and getting their feedback, you can become more confident in yourself as well as become known in your field.
There is no point is spending time on professional development and gaining skills for your future career if you no one knows you have them. Your career path is not Field of Dreams – just because you built your skills doesn’t mean that jobs will automatically will come! By sharing them on your resume, LinkedIn, and other online sites you can both passively and actively promote yourself into the career that you want.