I’ve been working with two very different senior managers recently who had lost sight of their own personal and professional development. It had been several years since they had invested in themselves or considered how they kept themselves professionally current and credible in the market place.

Both individuals are successful senior managers, well respected, knowledgeable, and had gone through changes in their jobs which brought about increased responsibility and challenge. Yet they had not really taken stock of how this would impact on their professional development and where it would fit into the next stages of their career.

When you come to a point of reflection or transition in your career – considering moving on, changing role, reviewing progress you’ve made so far – big gaps can suddenly appear and impact on how you compete in the market place.

With workplace goal-posts constantly shifting – new technology, customer demand, changing legislation, new boss, funding changes – it can be easy to lose sight of how you’re faring in the current job market.

Benchmark the job market

By keeping a regular eye on adverts/person specifications with similar roles to yours or in positions where you’re looking to go in the near future, what do you notice?

  • How has the needs of the job market changed?
  • Have salary expectations changed?
  • Are certain professional qualifications or particular skills becoming a necessity for many employers?
  • Would this present a gap for you that would need to be addressed?

Talk to people in the roles you’re interested in, or have a look at their online CVs via LinkedIn, and see what you notice about their career journey to date.

Explore what is possible

Identify what may be possible within your current role or company and who you need to speak to about this. Sometimes, however, the finance and scope of opportunities aren’t always there, so be prepared that you may need to invest your own time or money outside of work to get the personal and professional development you seek.

  • How much time are you prepared to commit to this?
  • What potential opportunities could result from this?
  • What would be the possible consequence of not developing yourself?


A few ideas to consider:

  • Mentoring – either be a Mentor for others or benefit from being mentored yourself
  • Community or voluntary work
  • Secondments
  • Work shadowing
  • Attend conferences, webinars, events
  • Surround yourself with like-minded positive people and improve your networks – LinkedIn, groups, speak to people doing the job you want to do…
  • Are you a member of a professional body/trade association? If yes, make more of the services they provide, and if you’re not, investigate what opportunities they could give you
  • Short training courses or workshops
  • Professional qualifications
  • Ask your line manager if you could be involved in different projects or sit in on meetings to get some insight
  • Join steering groups/committees
  • Identify if you can solve a particular type of problem within your industry and focus on becoming a specialist/subject-matter expert in your field
  • Write! Contribute to blogs, the company newsletter, volunteer to write an article…


No-one is going to hold you by the hand and sort it out for you. Take ownership and create the space in your calendar to give it momentum. We spend so much time at work managing our endlessly full in-boxes and commitments, but we rarely take time to stop for a moment and evaluate HOW we can improve and maximise our potential.

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