Why continuous professional development should be your top career priority

In a fast paced and constantly evolving industry such as IT, it's never been more important to keep your skillset up to date and prove to recruiters your hunger for new opportunities. But we're not talking solely about seminars and training courses.

The CIPD defines Continuing Professional Development (CPD) as 'a combination of approaches, ideas and techniques that will help you manage your own learning and growth.' The focus, it says, is firmly on results and the benefits such learning can bring you in the real world.

For prospective employers, the appeal of candidates who have embraced CPD are obvious, as it demonstrates they've been proactive in keeping their skillset as current and valid as possible while staying abreast of the latest industry developments. For candidates themselves, investing time and energy in CPD increases motivation, productivity and job satisfaction, so is a valuable pursuit regardless of whether or not they're actively job hunting.

Here's a rundown of why CPD should be your top career priority:

Lifelong learning: It proves you're committed to lifelong learning that not only benefits you but also your organisation and the wider industry – a solid measure of professionalism that's good for your CV, your interview answers and your pursuit of chartered status if this is on your radar.

Be in control: It suggests you're in control of your career and know what you want to achieve – employers like to know their staff have focus and ambition as well as a positive attitude.

Direction: It shows you have direction, drive, motivation and an eagerness to learn and evolve – no one wants lazy employees who are happy settling for an easy life; they want go-getters who will push their business forward and help it stay ahead of the competition.

Take stock: It enables you to evaluate, assess, address, plan, act and deliver genuine results – transferable skills that all good leaders and managers display, whatever career trajectory they're on.

Unique insight: It gives you superior knowledge and insight other candidates may not have – having the self-awareness to master the art of reflective learning will undoubtedly contribute to your employability.

Plan ahead: It facilitates your career planning, aspirations and goals while providing a structured framework in which to develop – looking back at what you've achieved and articulating its value will facilitate your CV writing and confidence at interview.

A change of perspective: It will help you appreciate skills, knowledge and expertise you're used to taking for granted – seeing things from a different perspective will reinforce your understanding of what a strong asset you are and help you sell yourself to recruiters at every stage of your journey towards a new job.

Making connections: It's an excellent networking opportunity – tap into your existing knowledge resources at work (colleagues) and within external professional networking forums such as LinkedIn. Most people are happy to share information and insight about how they got where they are today, plus you're sure to benefit from following the right people and joining relevant groups.

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