Planning your professional development

Good planning makes sense. It’s how we make sure we get things done at work and at home. So, it makes sense to think about your career in the same way.

What are your ambitions, and what you would like to achieve over the next three to five years? What skills and knowledge you would like to develop?

Career ambitions will vary from one member to another. For example, those new to the profession may consider building on their experience to date and look for opportunities to move from one employer to the next over the next three to five years. Mid-career professionals may be looking to consolidate their experience or perhaps specialise in an area of their choosing.

Those who are very experienced or in senior positions will still need to keep up to date with emerging best practice and legislative changes, but they might also think about sharing their experiences with others. The transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next is essential if a profession is to build on its successes. This contribution to the profession is a key element of the criteria to qualify as a Fellow of the ARA.

Continuing your professional development

To help you decide your career and professional development goals, begin by undertaking a SWOT analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that relate to you and your current role or situation. This will help you decide what your goals should be, and you can then begin thinking about what you need to do to achieve them. The ARA’s competency framework will help you map your goals to our national competency standards. This approach will also help those enrolled on the Professional Development Programme. If you need more experience in certain competencies to enable you to move from a Level 2 to a Level 3 and beyond, then how will you make this happen?

The end result will be your professional development plan (also known as personal development plan). If you are employed and your employer operates an annual work appraisal, then you can discuss your thoughts with your line manager.

You should also review the ARA’s competency framework as part of your planning to identify key competencies for you to develop. The learning and development that you record as you develop the competencies could then be used in an application to become a Foundation, Registered or Fellow member. A discussion with your mentor would prove useful at this stage.

Plans will vary between individuals. Learning activities may include formal and informal training, reading, attending meetings, observing colleagues, practising skills, refreshing or learning new study skills or developing new skills to meet a career goal. Your plan should clearly define objectives, time frames, learning activities and outcomes to meet your goals. You should also specify dates for review and meetings with line managers or mentors to help you stay on track.

By taking control of your career in this way you can ensure you remain at the top of your game – which is good for you and your employability. Careers move in different directions, not just forwards. Career planning helps us adapt to external influences that impact on our careers, such as maternity leave, caring responsibilities, redundancy, returning to university and relocation.

Additional guidance on development planning is available from the ARA website.

Article first published in ARC magazine February 2018.

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