Career strategy and your personal CPD
Continuing professional development (CPD) is essential for an engineer. Fast-paced global economy and rapidly developing technology set high demands on the engineering professionals. In addition there are the well-known phenomena of the modern working life:
- competitive work place
- accelerating pace of work
- high expectations on professionals
- expanded scope of work
- need to develop new competencies
- increased need to collaborate with others
- demand for increased flexibility
Your competence is what interests your present and future employers. Therefore …
- Update your CV at least once a year to make sure you have an up-to-date document listing your competence and achievements.
- Make sure your competence is known among you colleagues and in the wider professional community.
- Do not build your career on too narrow set of competences.
- Keep an eye on what happens in your field of technology to prepare in advance for possible changes. Learn to live with certain amount of uncertainty. It is very difficult to know what kind of competence will be useful five years from now.
- Do not forget that, in addition to your technical competence, other skills are important in the working life.
Plan your CPD
Writing down your plans and thoughts is a helpful tool when you are making your professional development plans. Make an action plan. You can move forward even by taking small steps. Concrete plans make it easier to take the important first step.
Utilise the possibilities for on-the-job-learning that your employer offers. If you want to participate in long training programs, make sure you make a realistic time schedule for your studies.
Reflect on what you have done and learned. That will deepen the knowledge and help you look at things from new angles.
Plan your CPD with your present employer. ADD policy document info.
Develop your Competences
Updating your knowledge and skills is the minimum requirement when you want to hold your position and stay employed. If you want your career to progress, through vertical or horizontal mobility, you need to invest more into CPD.
In some cases you need to reinvent your engineering career e.g. when your field of technical specialty becomes obsolete or you yourself desire to make more fundamental professional changes.
Some ways in which you may develop your competence:
- On the job learning and training.
- Participate in new projects / working groups in your workplace.
- Attend training courses / seminars / conferences in and outside your company.
- Pursue doctoral studies.
- Study for another complementary degree.
- Read and study on your own, use e-learning possibilities.
- Do web research on specific professional items.
- Write articles in magazines, scientific periodicals or on the web to make yourself known as a professional.
- Learn through networking and discussion groups inside and outside your company / organisation.
- Join expert groups of technical organisations.
- Sharing experience and knowledge with your colleagues is an important way of learning. It is also often a requirement since many projects are complicated and multi-faceted – impossible for just one person to manage.
Plan your Career
Think about what would be an ideal career for you. Then check what is realistic considering your strengths and weaknesses and the job market situation. Do not forget to take into consideration your values and the situation you are living in your personal life e.g. raising small children.
Keep doors open for optional career paths. The changes in working life may cause fundamental changes in your professional life. Be prepared to face the new situation.
Do not be too stuck on traditional ways of thinking. Dare to be innovative and dream big. On the other hand, remember that some career dreams are meant to be ”just dreams”.
- Set a career goal but keep it broad enough. Be ready to change it according to what happens in the job market.
- Build a personal information databank on interesting companies and organisations or keep in touch with people who can give you information on interesting companies and organisations.
- Find out what are the typical and untypical career paths in your own field. Alternative job profiles can offer the right career for you.
- Find out examples on how some individuals have built their career – in your own engineering discipline or in other fields. What were the key success factors? Can you use them as an example.
- Find out information on certain career crossroad situations (e.g. new graduate, unemployment, returning back to work after maternity leave or your field of technology has become obsolete).
- Consult friends, family and colleagues to seek new opportunities and enlarge your field of activity.
- Seek professional career consultation to get deeper.
- Attend lectures on career matters to get new tools for your thinking process.
- Use web tools for career counselling and information.
- Keep an open and broad view on possibilities following what competences are in demand in the job market.
CPD and Unemployment
- Some people who are made redundant are successful at finding new employment within a short period. Others find the search for new work a frustrating and demoralising experience. There are a number of options open to unemployed people. In all options it is crucial to be able to describe what you competence is and be aware what your career goal is.
- Search for a new job
- Write a good CV to . Your CV shouldn't read like a job description. Solely listing duties and responsibilities doesn't add value to your experience. It can be a good idea to add a section titled 'Accomplishments' or 'Achievements' and provide details of things that changed or improved as a result of your efforts in your employment.
- Be realistic about to whom your competence is useful. Read the job spec. If an attribute is essential and you don't have it then it's unlikely you'll be called to interview stage. Customising your CV for different applications will enable you to emphasis different elements of your experience for this purpose.
- Approach those who already know your competence: your network. Networking includes both people known to you already, e.g. friends, acquaintances, relations, former work colleagues, and those that you are going to get to know through the networking process.
- Career change and retraining
- You may consider either updating your existing qualifications or retraining for a different job or career. This may mean some internal retraining in your new employment or attending a programme in an educational establishment. Alternately you may wish to consider a complete change of career.
- Set up own business
- Self employment or setting up your own business may be an attractive option to someone who has recently become unemployed or you may feel that it is the only option available to you. Check what type of training is available for those starting a new business.
Helpful lists on CPD
Working life requires engineers to have a wide set of competences. When planning your CPD consider also developing competences in e.g. some of these fields:
Sales & Marketing
When describing your professional competence verbs are useful words. What are you able to do? Here are some examples: