Growth / Personal Development

When your employer doesn’t offer you professional development opportunities at work

Laura Dolan

Jul 17, 2018 · 4 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

professional development opportunities

Seeking professional development opportunities at work is a great way to move forward in your career. They can result in more credentials on your resume that can yield a promotion, a raise, and/or more responsibility. It’s also a great way to challenge yourself, keep your mind engaged, and to persist with advancements in your industry.

When an employer provides learning and growth opportunities, it shows how invested the company is in its staff members and what motivates them to excel beyond their current skill set.

Unfortunately, not all companies think this way. They either just don’t have the means or the motivation. In this case, employees tend to feel stagnant and underappreciated. If this is the situation you’re in, here are some ways to overcome it:

Approach your boss

From a company standpoint, it’s imperative that employers understand the significance of employees’ needs and values and create an open-door policy where opportunities can be made available to them. Whether this is happening at your company or not, never be afraid to show initiative and tell your boss that you want to enhance your credentials and solidify yourself in your career.

Ask your boss what it would take to establish programs for professional development in-house if there aren’t any being offered. If it’s too much of a financial burden on the company, you also can suggest a reasonable company subscription to a website like Udemy that provides online classes for SEO training, Google Analytics, AdWords, etc.

You can also inquire about industry seminars, conferences, and trade shows or getting involved in some new projects where you can explore beyond your talents. This will also help you appear proactive to your superiors and peers, as you strive to build a culture of learning and professional development.

Depending on how receptive your employer is to feedback and communication on the subject, you can provide statistics revealing those who prefer development and work-life balance over financial reward, for example.

Think outside the office

As mentioned above, there are many programs online that provide continuing education and professional development opportunities outside of work, and a lot of them are free.

Mentioning to your boss that you’re pursuing more credentials can motivate them to possibly integrate these programs into the business depending on which skill set you want to expand.

Massive Open Online Courses

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are offered by prestigious universities and educational firms including Stanford Online, Coursera, Udacity, and University of California, Berkeley. You can also pursue an advanced degree online, but be prepared to pay tuition fees, as master’s degree programs can be quite pricey.

However, many other courses are free, but can require a substantial amount of time and effort to complete them, so you want to ensure you make time in your schedule for such a commitment and that it doesn’t impede the progression of your actual job.

Put your skills to use

Another way to hone your skills and ensure professional development is to offer your expertise somewhere outside of work. For example, if you’re a computer programmer, you could help a local non-profit install their software and show them how to operate it. This will give you the opportunity to challenge your existing abilities and find yourself in situations that will help you gain a new perspective on your capabilities.

It’s also healthy to pursue other skills not related to your career. This opens new opportunities to volunteer and expand your network that could take you to heights you never knew were possible. You may develop a whole other skill set that you could hone as a side hustle.

Search for professional development associations

You should consider becoming a member of a professional association and find out what the requirements are for joining. This can help you expand your career network with more professional development opportunities for a reasonable cost. Some industry associations offer online seminars, webinars, and courses that can take one to two days to complete. Engaging in a professional association will provide more extensive learning opportunities.

Moving ahead

Regardless of what your career goals are, professional development opens many doors to help you grow as an expert in your field. Don’t be discouraged if your current employer can’t provide you with those learning opportunities right now–this is your chance to be resourceful and to search for the perfect professional development opportunities. Taking initiative in pursuing this will be enough to get you noticed even before you land that next credential.


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