5 Professional Self Development Tips to Improve You in the New Year

self help, self development, personal brand, motivation

In an economy where no job is certain and an individual’s best plan to increase their salary it to leave the company, self development isn’t just suggested – it’s practically essential. Technology and techniques are improving every day, so it’s vital that we are as well. Any professional who is serious about establishing, maintaining or improving their career path should be focused on self development. And trust me, it isn’t just hype that professional organizations created so you’d pay their dues. Employers are looking for employees with an edge over the competition and you never know what kind of doors it could open.

I could preach this all day because self development has been an enormous part of getting to where I am professionally. In fact, one of the first self development activities I did gave me the tools I needed to turn Blogging4Jobs into a reality. Many years ago, my side hustle was blogging but it was far from what it needed to be to keep me going full time. What pushed it from hobby to full-time gig was a graphic design class that a friend and I took at a local vocational school. From my own experience, you won’t ever regret investing in yourself.

5 Professional Self Development Tips

Create a personal self-development plan

Research the current job market and create a plan for yourself for 6 months, 12 months, and 5 years down the road. It will help you identify the steps in between if you know where you eventually want to be.

Get involved

Self development isn’t all about books and certifications. It can definitely be fun. Network and gain new experiences to add to your resume by volunteering in your community, going to professional happy hours and lunches and even joining a professional organization.

Develop a side hustle

You may not be ready to switch companies or careers immediately, but you can flex your skills outside the 8 to 5 setting to gain valuable experience and increase your knowledge. Video editing, graphic design, coding, consulting and teaching are just a few skills that will be useful for the long haul.

Take a class

Take on the role of student again and enroll in a class that will be beneficial. There are so many places and ways to take classes now that just about everyone should be able to find something that works for their schedule and budget.

Don’t over indulge

As great as self development is, keep in mind that there is such a thing as over indulging. Overqualified job seekers are often looked over for opportunities for a job because they have too much education, so research whether or not the accreditation, degree or activity is beneficial for your desired career path. It may be that it would make more sense further down the road.

Self development doesn’t have to take up hours each week or interfere with your current job. It can be a small investment that makes a significant impact on your career. Start with the big picture and work out from that, considering along the way what will help you get where you want to go.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Michael Gregory II says

    Great post. I hear people complain all the time about how they’re too qualified to fit a role or position at a company. I sort of thought that concept was funny to imagine until I realized what companies had been searching for was someone who would stick around long term

  2. Jason Hill says

    I tend to be all-or-nothing and jump head first into a new idea. From experience, I want to validate your last pointer to not overindulge. I think that a good marker you can check yourself with is if your on-the-side pursuits are overshadowing normal healthy relations, habits, and practices; then you need to slow up, and like you said, take a look at “the big picture”.

  3. Alex Jennings says

    Hey, Blake! I appreciate you posting this article! We all need personal and professional development tips—me especially! I like how you suggested “develop[ing] a side hustle[.]” I think it’s incredibly important that we’re doing all we can to learn about our job profession. Thanks for sharing!


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