Futureproof: Planning for Professional Development

If you’re looking to advance or switch careers, it can be difficult staying on course amidst the busyness of daily working life. Professional development doesn’t always happen organically. It can be worthwhile to outline a formal plan to create a clear path to success. Here are a few tips to get you organized.

Career Goals

The first step toward reaching your career goals is to identify exactly what you hope to achieve. By setting clear ‘end objectives,’ you can work backwards to list the steps necessary for achievement. It helps to segment each stage of development and identify the minute skills, credentials, or roles at every level. This changes your daily goals from being large and insurmountable to small, fractional, and manageable.

Assessing Skills

Ultimately, our rank in the professional hierarchy is dependent on skill and experience. Therefore, it’s important to have a transparent view of our own skill sets. Take time to recognize your pre-existing expertise that is required to reach your objectives (whether this is in a particular software or a knowledge of a certain industry niche), and then set out to ‘upskill’. Take some time to review your own résumé and pick apart recent roles to identify any core skills you may have learned during your time in those positions. You may also look ahead to promotions and decide whether more time spent in your current employment will better equip you to reach your desired goals.


It’s possible that your current occupation will not sufficiently equip you to excel in your future career goals. If this is the case, you may need to seek training outside of work hours. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to learn remotely, meaning you can fit studies around a full-time role. For example, you could check out one of the online courses for medical coding (a high-growth programming sector). Online professional development courses can teach you how to assign the correct codes and identify medical procedures/service claims, with an end-of-course assessment to validate your skills. With the right knowledge, it’s possible to transition from one career to another without losing wages in the process.


Even in the digital age, interpersonal relationships play an important role in creating business opportunities. Therefore, it’s important to position yourself close to other professionals and expose yourself to new networking opportunities. Professional associations help by giving you direct access to work communities, thereby providing opportunities to learn, collaborate, and improve your résumé.

Refining Your Résumé

No single document will play a more important role in shaping your career prospects than your résumé. It’s important to take meticulous care as you write it, considering structure, layout, wording, and utilizing available online tools like résumé templates. They are often available to download for free, with libraries featuring professionally-designed templates and customizable copy, photos, colors, and images. If you don’t want to write your own, you could also hire a résumé writer to get your accomplishments on paper.

Setting Timelines

There are a number of widely accepted frameworks for career development, including the six-stage model. Attaching deadlines to these various stages can be a double-edged sword. You may feel more driven to succeed in your daily working life, but, without care, you can also set yourself up for disappointment. Make sure that your timelines are feasible, and remember to always take them with a grain of salt. Even successful careers are rarely straightforward and are prone to twists of fate.

Seeking Role Models

One of the best ways to spark motivation is to find like-minded role models who inspire you and who you can look up to. These high-performing individuals will often present themselves in daily working life, and the term ‘mentor’ is now commonly accepted across industries. Finding a mentor is not always easy but there are methods that can help you approach someone in a superior position or online networks that can give you communicative access to industry leaders.

Social media and media entertainment can also be leveraged to supplement your professional life. If you’re not already, take some time to browse the various career or professionally-related podcasts. You can also try revamping your social feeds, unfollowing those who do not provide healthy input, and instead following individuals who you believe will contribute positively to your career ambitions and mental health.

Planning your professional development is the simple part; executing your plan can be trickier. Take the time to write down your next steps, and whether you’re partaking in a professional development course, networking in professional associations, or simply sharpening up your résumé, you can be sure you’re taking confident steps forward into a better career.

As a young professional, Elena Pastore is influencing the world by creating and providing the best resources to develop people professionally. Learn more at: www.elenapastore.com

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Article written by Vanessa Holwell, vholwell@hiringsquad.net.