As part of our commitment to helping personal assistants progress their careers, we are working with Birkbeck, University of London to offer advice on professional development. So how should you plan for Continuous Professional Development (CPD)?
CPD is vital for any ambitious PA looking to advance their career. It’s no secret that the role of a PA today is hugely varied, encompassing everything from using social media to team coordination and events management. As a PA’s remit grows, so too does the list of skills you need in order to achieve both organisational and personal goals. By applying a structured, continuous approach to upskilling, CPD will allow you to stay ahead of the curve and meet the evolving demands of the PA profession.
In order to be effective and time-efficient, the first step in your CPD journey should be building a considered and comprehensive professional development plan.
Creating a written plan will demonstrate real commitment to making CPD happen. It will also allow you to assess what skills you need to develop, establish what you want from the process and crystallize the CPD methods you need to undertake to achieve this. So what are the steps to creating an effective plan?
Conduct an honest self-assessment
First, you should carefully consider your skills, interests and areas of weakness. Do you have strong interpersonal skills, but lack an understanding of wider business objectives? Do you enjoy events management, but need to grow your HR credentials? An honest and in-depth self-assessment will help you define your current offering, and thus pinpoint skills which you can further improve upon.
Understand the changing market
It is important to map this professional evaluation against the wider market.You should consider combining the areas you need to develop with an understanding, not only of the challenges your current organisation needs to solve, but of challenges and opportunities in others too. This will ensure your CPD activity has longevity, and the skills you acquire are transferable.
It is also useful to seek advice from those who know the market best. An expert recruiter can offer constructive industry insights, such as the PA skillsets currently most in demand by employers. Furthermore, a good recruiter will also be in a position to highlight new career opportunities that compliment your CPD successes.
Set SMART goals
You should then consider your broader vision for your professional future. To produce effective and achievable short and long term goals, a good tip is to make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. Creating realistic and clearly defined career goals will allow you to streamline your professional development plans accordingly.
Establish clear action points
Finally, combining the above steps, you should prepare your CPD action plan. What skills and experience do you need to develop over the next year in order to move forward and achieve your goals? What exactly are the proactive measures you can take to achieve this?
Spending the time to write a succinct, clear and actionable professional development plan will ultimately make it far more likely for your CPD to lead to success. It will allow you to know what areas to target before putting in the effort to gain the skills required – and take you closer to achieving your career goals.
Look out for the next article in this series produced in association with Birkbeck, University of London and contact them to find out more about their evening study options in Bloomsbury, Central London, or Stratford, East London.
To speak to a local recruiting expert about how best to progress your PA career, find your local office here.