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Are you in danger of losing your relevance


Kim Meninger - Expert Author

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When was the last time you thought about your professional development? Do you have a plan that outlines your development goals? Are you consistently taking steps to upgrade your skills? If not, you are taking a significant career risk. You may be an extraordinarily valuable asset today, but if you arenít committed to ongoing professional development, you are in danger of losing your relevance in the future.

Think of yourself as a product. Perhaps youíre currently a market leader. Youíre popular, have great features, and solve important problems. In order to maintain your competitive advantage, however, you must stay ahead of the curve. Itís not sufficient to simply perform well today. You need to consistently evaluate how you can continue to perform well tomorrow.

Back to school season is a great time to consider your development needs. If youíre like me and feel nostalgic each September, think about how you can further your own education, formally or informally. You may be thinking, ďI would love to focus on my professional development, but I donít have time. Iím already overwhelmed with responsibilities.Ē The reality is that you cannot afford not to invest in your own development.

Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Anticipate the future:
    Often we become so immersed in the here and now that we lose sight of the changes that lie ahead. Without losing your focus on your current job, you need to stay alert to the changing landscape around you. Stay on top of industry trends, technological advancements, changes in the company direction, etc. Build this into your routine. If you need to arrive 15 minutes early to work each day, this is an important investment in your future.
  2. Identify your gaps:
    Take some time to think about where you are strong and where you need to develop. Is there a software program youíve been meaning to learn? Is there a new product line you need to better understand? Is there a new competitor in your market that you need to further research? Conduct an honest assessment of yourself to identify the gaps and understand where you need to focus.
  3. Invest in your education:
    For some professionals, this means returning to formal education, but for most, the process is much less rigorous and time consuming. Begin with your companyís training resources. Are there courses you can take to upgrade your skills or broaden your expertise? If your company lacks a strong training program, are there industry associations that offer relevant courses or workshops? Perhaps you can take a class at a local community college.
  4. Talk to the experts:
    You could learn more in one substantive conversation with a subject matter expert than you could in an entire workshop. Seek out the thought leaders, trendsetters, and early adopters who are ahead of the curve. Understand the direction that your role, company, and industry are taking. Ask questions and give serious thought to how you personally need to adapt to maintain your relevance.
  5. Have a plan:
    Without a plan, you are unlikely to follow through. Identify three to five specific goals that you would like to achieve and set deadlines for each one. Use your plan to guide your development process. If a particular goal is no longer important, or you need to re-prioritize, update your plan.

Itís important to remember that your development is never complete. You must commit to ongoing professional development if you want to maximize your career success. Unfortunately, many professionals view development as an annual conversation that coincides with their performance review. It is not, however, a point in time event; it needs to be part of the fabric of your career management strategy.

We live in a fast-paced, ever-changing world. Technology advancements, outsourcing, and other trends are rendering many previously stable jobs obsolete. If you want to stay relevant, it is critical that you engage in continuous professional development.

What steps are you taking to maintain your competitive advantage?

About the Author

Kim Meninger works with professionals who are feeling stuck in their careers, struggling to reach higher levels, or navigating challenging career transitions.  Kim helps professionals clarify their career vision, identify career options that best align with their skills and interests, and apply job search strategies to more quickly and effectively find new opportunities and achieve their unique career goals.

Prior to coaching, Kim had a highly successful corporate career managing strategic business partnerships at EMC Corporation and Monster Worldwide.  She attributes much of her success to her strategic approach to career management.  Kim is passionate about helping other professionals use similar strategies to reach their full potential and maximize their career success.

Kim is a certified career coach and founder of Great Heights Coaching.  She has a BA in psychology and an MBA with a concentration in organizational leadership from Boston College.  She also holds certifications in career and life coaching from the Life Purpose Institute.  Kim is a CCE Board Certified Coach and an authorized facilitator of Now What?ģ, a Life Blueprint program.  For more information, visit

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2013-03-29 09:07:17 in Personal Articles

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