Give Your Career a Booster Shot Applying Preventative Medicine to Professional Development

The flu season is upon us. Time for your flu shot, which means making the annual trek out to your doctor or pharmacy, filling out the paperwork, and suffering through the residual soreness for the next couple of days. But hey, that’s better than getting the flu, right?

This yearly tradition, however, has got us thinking, “In what other ways should we be preparing ourselves for the future. Just like a flu shot helps ward off sickness, is there something we should be doing to stay ‘healthy’ in other areas of our lives?”

It’s an idea that we want to extend to professional development.

You don’t get a flu shot when you’re already sick. It’s a preventative measure to soften the effects if you do get sick. Likewise, even if you aren’t anticipating a layoff anytime soon or actively looking for a new job, there are measures you should be taking to keep your career from suffering in the long term.

So, that’s what we’re talking about today—how to apply a “preventative” approach to professional development:

  1. Keep Your Resumé Current

    If it’s been a year or more since you’ve landed a new job, chances are, your resumé could use a refresh. Most people dust off their resumé only when they’re contemplating a career move. The problem with that approach, however, is that you often forget key details. Your resumé is more than a list of places you’ve worked. It’s a record of your accomplishments with tangible, evidence-backed results. If you’re not keeping a record of your major accomplishments and projects—including both tangible outcomes and more abstract results (like what you learned and how it affected you as a professional)—it becomes much harder to recall or dig up that information when you need it.

    Plus, in a career where you are constantly thinking ahead to all the work you have left to do, it never hurts to periodically reflect on your progress and what you’ve learned along the way.
  2. Learn New Skills

    It’s easy to become a little bit complacent after you’ve gotten the hang of your job (hey, it happens to all of us). You know what you need to do, and you know how to get it done. While that can give you a great sense of accomplishment (you’re finally not the newbie anymore!), it can also leave you feeling unchallenged and stagnant. That’s when it’s time to start pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone.

    It’s like exercising. To stay healthy and keep your workouts productive, you should continually push just a bit farther every time an exercise stops being challenging. You add just one more weight, run just a little bit faster, stay on the elliptical for just a few minutes longer. We can apply that same approach to professional development. When something starts to feel too easy, it’s a sign that you should start pushing outside of your comfort zone just a bit more. For example, you could try asking your supervisor for an opportunity to expand your responsibilities, or you could start taking an online course to learn a skill adjacent to your career (like learning a new language to better communicate with clients from different backgrounds).
  3. Invest in Yourself

    An investment is something that you devote resources (including money, time, or energy) to now in order to create more value in the future. You may not immediately see returns on your investment for quite a while. However, that’s why it’s all the more important to make these investments early—far before you need to reap the benefits.

    For example, you may invest in a collection of professional development materials—like books or access to online course materials. It will take you a few weeks or months to read, evaluate, and start applying that new knowledge to your practice. However, once you’ve absorbed that knowledge, it will stay with you for the rest of your career.
  4. Make Connections in Your Industry

    Are you the type of person who only logs into LinkedIn when you’re looking for a new job? Well, it may be time to change that.

    Staying in touch with your professional network is vital to keeping your career “in shape.” Relationships require constant attention. You can’t just neglect them and reach out when you need a professional recommendation. Cultivate and nurture those relationships over time, and you’ll find that people are much more willing to respond when you ask for a favor. So, make an effort to attend industry events and seminars, connect with new acquaintances on LinkedIn, or send a message to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Not only will you be up to date about goings-on in your industry but you’ll also make some good friends (and as any healthcare professional knows, social health is just as important as physical health).

At Concentra, we believe in supporting healthy habits—even as it extends to your career. To stay healthy, we all know that we must dutifully go to the doctor for annual flu shot (even though it feels like a chore), drag ourselves to the gym (even when we don’t feel like it), and try our best to practice self-care (even when it’s hard to find a single minute for ourselves). However, we should also strive to apply that consistent effort to our careers. That’s why we’re always working to create a supportive environment where our colleagues can flourish and grow their professional skillset.
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