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The 10 Areas of Professional Development

Professional development is crucial to you as an individual and your employer or business if you’re an entrepreneur.

No matter what profession you’re in, the growth potential is limitless over time, no matter how many years of experience you have under your belt.

There are always areas worth diving into and improving your skill sets in, especially with the changing nature of work due to technological advancements. Today, we’ll cover the 10 areas of professional development that are most important.

Continued professional development allows you to stay up-to-date with the changing nature of the world, learn new skills, and adapt to changes within your industry, and can help you earn more money.

According to Forbes, employers benefit from investing in employees’ professional development, including combatting skills shortages, staying up-to-date with industry trends, increasing employee engagement, reducing turnover, aiding in succession planning, and attracting better talent overall.

Professional development is a win-win situation overall. 

If you’re ready to pursue professional development in your career and aren’t sure where to get started, here are ten areas worth exploring:

1. Written Communication

Written communication skills are necessary every day, whether you’re writing emails, chatting with others through instant messaging tools, posting on social media for your business, or completing a project.

Keep clarity and conciseness as your end goals in mind. If you struggle with written communication, consider investing time learning about grammar, tone, punctuation, and eliminating fluff. There are many free tools to help you improve your writing as well, such as Grammarly, for example. 

If you want to take your professional development to the next level, consider professional development training courses to improve both your skills and your professionalism. It will take you far in your career to invest in this.

2. Leadership

Whether you’re a junior-level employee, a mid-level manager, a CEO, or any level in between, having strong leadership skills is a great area to focus on improving.

Leadership training helps instill individuals with more confidence, leads to higher-level opportunities and positions in many instances, and is undeniably beneficial to organizations. Leadership skills can be challenging to teach and develop over time. Still, you can take steps toward improving your leadership skills today by asking for more responsibility or becoming a leader outside of work by volunteering, for example. 

3. Organization

Organizational skills will benefit you in your professional life and your personal life as well. Honing in on and improving your organizational skills can help you be more productive and efficient at work, saving you time and energy to put back into other projects.

To get started, consider findings methods to help you plan your day, whether that means creating a to-do list the night before or following a digital calendar planning routine. Another way to improve your organization skills is to organize your computer from your email inbox to your desktop. Declutter paperwork by digitizing everything!

4. Creativity

Creativity extends beyond coloring books and crafts at home! Creative thinking is a valuable skill to have for both day-to-day work and long-term visions in the workplace.

Creative thinking includes a mix of problem-solving skills, analytical thinking, and communication skills to help you share your idea or solution. One of the best ways to increase your creative thinking capabilities is continually exposing yourself to and trying new ways of approaching the same task or problem. Doing things differently and breaking out of workstyle patterns in a meaningful way can help you grow in this area. 

The 10 Areas of Professional Development

5. Interpersonal

Interpersonal skills help us communicate and interact with one another, and when done well, these skills help us communicate more effectively.

Whether you work for an employer or work for yourself, managing and maintaining relationships successfully can help you stand out from the crowd and get your job done well. You can work on your interpersonal skills by being mindful of your nonverbal communication cues, expressing a genuine interest in your colleagues’ or clients’ lives to build relationships, and practicing empathy.

6. Conflict Resolution

Healthy conflict resolutions are necessary for all work environments, whether you work on a team, interact with clients, or both. Conflicts and disagreements are bound to happen and are a healthy and necessary part of working with others when handled appropriately.

Successful conflict resolution depends on your ability to be an active listener, engage in open communication, and control your emotions while expressing your feelings. Taking steps towards individual self-awareness is an ideal starting point when focusing on improving in this area.

7. Time Management

Much like organizational skills, time management skills prove to be beneficial professionally and personally. The better you manage your time, the more effectively you’ll be able to meet deadlines, manage your workload, and keep your stress levels down.

One of the best ways to improve your time management skills is to obtain an in-depth understanding of how you’re spending your time. Track your days and the amount of time you spend completing various tasks first. Look for tasks that you might be able to delegate, understand when you procrastinate, and lean on tools to help you prioritize your workload

8. Listening

Have you ever listened to someone speak only to realize you weren’t paying attention to what they were saying? Don’t worry, friend, me too.

In contrast, active listening refers to the ability to listen to someone completely, understand what they’re saying, and comprehend their message so that you can recall what they said later. This soft skill will help you increase your value professionally, and comes with many benefits, including connection-building, instilling trust from others, and improving your knowledgebase and understanding. 

Improve your active listening skills by making eye contact, learning how to paraphrase what you just heard, identifying nonverbal cues, and being open to others’ messages without judgment, to name a few. 

9. Problem-solving

No matter what industry you know, problems are bound to arise in your job. It’s important to understand that tribulations aren’t always negative, and developing problem-solving skills will allow you to identify issues, evaluate possible solutions, and choose the best solution to implement.

Solving problems quickly when they arise is a great way to set yourself apart from others. Building problem-solving skills takes practice and patience. Consider exposing yourself to new challenges by asking to partake in a project you’re less experienced in, or identify a problem in your current day-to-day workload and identify a variety of solutions that may help solve it. 

10. Industry Knowledge

Knowledge truly is power! This area seems like an obvious one, but it may get left in the dust when workloads are packed full. Level up in your industry by taking online courses about a relevant topic, or reach out to a colleague or mentor to see if you can set up a knowledge share to swap information.

Be sure to continuously prioritize time to catch up on the latest industry news, especially if you work in an industry that’s always evolving, such as digital marketing, for example. 

These are the 10 areas of professional development to focus on when it comes to career growth. If you’re stuck in your career, these will move you forward.

About the Author

Alyssa Towns (Swantkoski)

Alyssa graduated from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. Early in her career, her interests shifted, and she pivoted into the digital marketing industry. Her career path is constantly evolving to highlight a mix of her passions, skills, and interests. She lives in downtown Denver with her husband, and they love going on adventures together. She lives for summers in Colorado and enjoys hiking and stand up paddleboarding. She also enjoys collecting plants and stationery sets, reading self-help books, and is obsessed with the Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel. No matter where her career path leads her, writing, and sharing her experiences to help others will always be a part of her plans.