Why Professional Development Is Important: 10 Ways to Climb the Career Ladder

To climb the corporate ladder, you must be ready to work hard and smart. While putting in hours of work is essential, you can’t go too far without professional development. Yes, you read it right – professional development is the most critical factor in climbing the corporate ladder. 

Professional development can best be described as learning to earn, maintain, and improve professional credentials. It is a single term used to describe the most important learnings employees will have to undertake to develop their skills better to suit their current positions and the positions they aspire to reach in their given career. 

Professional development includes all forms of academic learning to boost professional credentials, including formal coursework, conferences, seminars, and more. It also includes informal learning opportunities, including coaching, mentoring, communities of practice, and many more. 

Girl sitting down reading a book
Photo by Alina Vilchenko from Pexels

Professional development takes different approaches. It includes all career activities aimed at making employees better suited for their current position and the positions they are aspiring to reach. It involves the most important things it takes to sharpen the tools in your toolbox as an ambitious career person. 

Why Professional Development is So Important

Why Professional Development is ImportantFirstly, professional development is the only way for people to grow in their careers. It is vital for individual workers and corporations, also. Unless the organization’s employees are taking career development seriously, it will be difficult for the company to grow or find the right people internally to drive growth. 

Related: What Is Professional Development and Why Is It Important?

We’ve already hinted that career development is a necessity for any employee who wants to climb the corporate ladder. This is the reality in virtually every organization. Even for employees who have intentions of moving on to other companies, professional development is super-important. It will enhance the chances of getting hired into a better position. 

Here are other major benefits of professional development:

  • It provides you with the needed skills to better perform your job and succeed in your line of work 
  • It will provide you with the necessary certification(s) to prove skills and expertise in your field 
  • It keeps professionals current on industry trends 
  • It will boost your confidence and credibility 
  • It will help boost your productivity and efficiency 
  • It will open doors to new opportunities 
  • It increases earning potentials and the likelihood of being hired
  • It provides networking opportunities 
  • It can help accelerate your career
  • It opens the door to a future career change.

Ten Ways to Climb the Career Ladder

We’ve already stressed that professional development is essential for climbing the corporate ladder. However, it is only a critical part of the equation. There are several other things you will have to do to advance in your career. 

Here are ten ways to embrace professional development and climb the career ladder: 

Determine Your Professional Goal and Make a Good Plan

If you want to climb the career ladder, the first important thing is determining what you want. Your short-term goals may change from time to time, but you need something tangible as a long term professional goal. If you see a future with the company you are currently working at, you can set goals to gain promotions and reach certain positions. 

When you determine your professional goals, it becomes easier to make a plan to reach your target. Without a plan, it is unlikely that you will achieve what you set out to. Plans are basically steps to achieve your aspirations, and you need to be clear with them. Set timelines and milestones to manage your goals and objectives. 

While having long-term plans is very important, you shouldn’t be held captive by them. There should be chances to shake things up as circumstances arise. However, the most important thing is to remain true to your ambition to climb the career ladder. 

If you need some help the planning of your professional development, you should check out a great book that I really enjoyed called: The Four O’Clock Faculty: A Rogue Guide to Revolutionizing Professional Development. As a book it was very thought provoking and made me think differently about how I will pursue professional development activities in the future. 

Communicate Clearly

It will be challenging to achieve your career goals if you suck at communication. At certain levels of management in corporate bodies, clear communication is as essential as decisive actions. You will need to learn and get used to communicating clearly to those above you and those below you on the career ladder. 

Different communication types

Efficient communication is mostly about making your point with everyone. It is always easier when you mean what you say. To achieve that level of communication, you will have to take it upon yourself to develop your communication skills. You should also never underestimate the importance of practice with communication.


Precise and efficient communication can help you in many ways. The very first benefits include improved relationships with your bosses and subordinates. You will find it easier to work with teams and your direct and broader management team.

Develop Your People Skills and Become a Team Leader

One of the secrets of succeeding at the top is knowing how to relate to different people. The higher you climb in the career ladder, the wider the range of people you will engage. Obviously, you will need to become more efficient at doing this. It would be best if you started developing people skills as soon as you develop promotion ambition. 

Developing people skills involves learning how to lead conversations, as well as how to handle conflict in the workplace. You will also need to learn how to get people to do what you need them to do. To achieve any of these, you need to enhance your emotional intelligence significantly. 

Developing your people skills will meaningfully help to make things easier when you start getting more responsibilities. Climbing the ladder, in most instances, starts with leading your team efficiently. Your people skills will help you significantly in this regard. 

Improve Your Leadership Skills

Some ambitious individuals stutter professionally because they fail to perform when presented with the opportunity they have longed for. With time and effort, you can attain leadership positions. In most instances, how you handle the position will determine whether you can climb higher or be limited in your career progression. 

Instead of focusing on attaining a leadership position, work on your leadership skills as a part of your professional development endeavors. You don’t have to wait for company-sponsored leadership programs or summits. There are several other ways to improve your leadership skills, including reading. Invest in yourself to become a better leader. 

Remember there are numerous ways to improve your skills online, especially since Civid-19 started. First up, some great courses can be found on LinkedIn Learning, providing you with excellent tips on how to implement new people skills in your organization(s).

Related: LinkedIn Learning Review 2020: Is It Worth Your Time

Improving your leadership skills will require challenging yourself in many ways. You will need to identify your weaknesses and work on them. You will also notice gaps in your skillset and address them along the way. You can also look at sites such as Udemy to look at building your people skills, but with a more niche course catalogue than LinkedIn. It is all about becoming a better version of yourself and influencing others to become better too. 

Think and Act a Level Ahead

You don’t have to wait around for promotions before taking up more responsibilities. If you are genuinely determined to climb the career ladder, you will need to start thinking and acting a level ahead. If you are truly desirous of a new position in the organization, start feeling like you already have the position. Most times, it helps to attract the position faster. 

Related: 13 Ways to Show Your Boss You’re Ready for the Big Promotion

It is also not enough to think a level ahead – go forward and act a level ahead. Learn to confidently handle the tasks and duties associated with your dream position as you wait for it. While trying to do that, do not lose track of your current responsibilities. 

Thinking and acting ahead will help to attract your desired promotion and help you become more confident and capable of handling the promotion when it eventually comes. Please pay attention to those at the top and start thinking and acting like them. Also, try to do everything you can to make your aspirations a reality. 

Become Aware Of Your Strengths

Sometimes all it takes to achieve personal growth is self-awareness. Do you know your current strength? Are you aware that some of your strengths that you are not taking seriously can help you climb the career ladder? 

Strength training on a dark background
Photo by Binyamin Mellish from Pexels

Do not concentrate on your weaknesses. Recognizing them and working to make progress is important, but you also need to recognize your strengths and take advantage of them. You can list your strengths and think of ways to help you get more out of your work and career. 

Leverage your strengths to create a better future in the workplace and your industry. If there are weaknesses that are not compatible with the future you want, address them as much as possible. Knowing your strength can also help you set the right goals and career path. 

Be Visible

Leadership is for individuals who are ready to raise their heads and be counted when responsibilities call. No matter how hard you work or how skillful or knowledgeable you are, being invisible in your workplace will always work against you and your aspirations. 

Related: Increasing Your Visibility – Raising Your Profile at Work.

It is not wrong to be noticed by your bosses for the right reasons, and a great way to accomplish this is to volunteer to be part of high-profile projects. When you get the opportunity to showcase what you can do, grab it with both hands and do all you can to make the right impression. It can earn you admiration and promotion in the workplace. 

Being visible shouldn’t be limited to your workplace. Becoming popular in the company will have its benefits. Still, you will solidify your worth when you become so relevant in the industry that external people know about you and your work

Make Connections and Learn How to Use Them

When it comes to career advancement, the need to make connections can never be overemphasized. In many instances, it is all about who you know and how you relate with them. 

You should know that knowing the boss’s son or daughter is not the sort of connection you need when your goal is to become the best in your chosen career. You need to know some of the people who matter most in your industry. It would help if you also found ways to let these people know your worth and understand your ambitions. 

Related: How to build workplace connections that help us succeed.

The best way to make the best of your connections is to take personal advancement seriously while establishing these connections. Learn new things from the people you meet, and don’t be afraid to exchange meaningful ideas.

Lastly, if you are looking at doing some online Professional development online and are in a technical field, check out Udacity. As well as being an accredited nanodegree provider, they also have a robust community to network within, which can really assist you in making connections. 

Keep Your Eyes Open for Opportunities

Blonde girls eyes looking over her top

As sad as it may sound, opportunities do not come as often as we always want them. Missing them because you are not vigilant enough will delay your career progression seriously. Opportunities will undoubtedly come knocking on your doors, but they don’t last forever. 

Keeping your eyes open for opportunities means being alert and following industry trends closely. An opportunity may come in the form of a challenge. Take it up and record a significant success, and you may be on your way to something bigger. 

In most instances, you will have minimal time to take advantage of an opportunity – this is where preparedness comes in. You have to position yourself strategically to see opportunities early and grab them as soon as possible. 

Keep Learning

In everything you do, never underestimate the power of continued education. That is the foundation of professional development. You have to keep learning because knowledge has no end. There will always be new discoveries, trends, and new technologies in your field. You must assimilate the new knowledge to be able to compete. 

Related: The Benefits of Employee Continuing Education Programs for Businesses and How to Start Your Own

Again, business changes every day, so you need to keep up with what is going on. Some employees make the mistake of depending on their bosses to get new information and new knowledge in their field. That is not the smartest thing to do. 

You stand a better chance of climbing the career ladder faster when you look outside the workplace to advance yourself. Some remain stagnant because they feel they don’t have enough time to improve themselves. Don’t fall into that trap. Keep reading, keep learning, and keep looking out for opportunities to advance your knowledge and get better career prospects. 

Final Thoughts

In everything you do, never underestimate the power of continued education. That is the foundation of professional development. You have to keep learning because knowledge has no end. There will always be new discoveries, trends, and new technologies in your field. You must assimilate the new knowledge to be able to compete. 

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