How to Invest in Your Career Development

More and more companies are seeing the value in investing in their staff’s education and skills, whether through professional qualifications, short courses or seminars. It’s undoubtedly a worthwhile investment, as the famous quote perfectly puts it; “What if I train them and they leave? But what if you don’t and they stay?”.

But that worry of a member of staff leaving is high on employer’s minds, it requires investment and like any investment, a business will want to see a return on that investment. A common practice among employers, certainly for costly and long-term professional qualifications is a pay-back scheme.

This is done differently by many employers but most offer a tiered structure where you pay back a percentage if you resign within a certain timeframe, for example, 100% of costs within year 1 of qualifying, 60% in year 2 and 30% in year 3. Some employers also impose financial penalties should you fail your exams.

If you’re very happy with your current role and feel like you’re in a job for life then much of this won’t be a worry, but who knows how you’ll feel in 1 or 2 or 3 years’ time? A new employer may offer to “buy you out” but this is always on a case-by-case basis and can limit your movements unless you’re financially able to cover your buy-out.

That’s why I’m such a strong advocate of investing in your own learning and career development. We all spend money on our homes, our cars, our wardrobes and our holidays but how many of us spend money on our career development? So many of us leave it up to the employer, yet the direction and growth of our own careers are ultimately our responsibility and for something that accounts for, often, 40% of our waking hours, shouldn’t we be investing our personal finances in this area?

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Let’s look at the cons of it first…

Other than obviously spending your own money on this, although I think I’ve made a strong case for this point, there are admittedly downsides to investing your own funds in professional development.

Your own time – Employers normally, should, give you time in your working day to study and attend examinations, meaning that it won’t eat up into your personal time. A self-funded course, that might better suit your interests than your employer, may well be a harder case to argue, although some employers will still offer the flexibility.

Getting it right – Going out on your own to pick a course of your choosing, might not be as right for you as you think it will be.

Staying focused – Whilst funding it yourself and doing it on your own schedule can take away a lot of the pressure, that may well be some people’s downfall. Without the expectations of employers and the pressure to deliver, you will need to make sure you can maintain your drive and focus.

And saving the best till last, the pros…

Choose your own course – Working in Trust and fancy a change to HR? Great, it’s your money and your future, pick whatever course you want to best suit your goals.

Boost your CV and salary – Whilst this is a pro whether funded or self-funded, if your employer isn’t willing to invest in your education, doing it yourself will certainly bolster your CV and certainly gives you a good standing point when asking for a pay rise with your current employer or your next one.

Leave whenever you want – Half way through your course and fancy a new job? No problem, you’re not locked into a lengthy contract or facing a large bill. Start searching for a new job and carry on with your course as normal.

Take as long as you need – Take the course on your own schedule and complete it in a timeframe that suits you best. Just be advised that courses can come with deadlines, so make sure you’re aware when signing up.

Spread the financial liability – Many educational institutions now offer interest-free payment plans, allowing you to stretch the hefty cost over a long period to make it easier to afford.

Looking for impartial advice?

If you’re looking into further professional development, maybe to boost your skills or to make moves into a different industry, send me an email and I’ll be happy to give you impartial advice and set you on the right track.

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