Understanding the subtle distinction between professional development and career management can help add clarity to the materials and services that support members’ pursuit of enhancing their skills (professional development) and moving forward in their careers (career management).
- Professional or skills development is course- or class-based training that teaches an individual the skills they need to stay current and/or advance in their industry. Individuals attend workshops, conferences, seminars, webinars, or classes to further their professional development.
- Career management is the continual process of setting career-related goals and planning a route to achieve those goals. It includes taking into consideration goals for salary, title, skills mastery and company or organization affiliation, and mapping out the actions and knowledge needed to reach those goals. Career management also entails self-awareness of one’s existing skills and what skills or knowledge are required by industry as the industry’s technological, political, and cultural landscape changes.
Professional or skills development is course- or class-based training that teaches an individual the skills they need to stay current and/or advance in their industry.
Career management is the continual process of setting career-related goals and planning a route to achieve those goals.
“Professional development for association professionals and the members they serve is important, but is just one component of career management,” said Jennifer Baker, CAE, director of AssociationCareerHQ.org, ASAE’s online career management center.
To illustrate the difference between professional development and career management, consider the following two questions from someone who works in marketing: “How do I learn to write a marketing plan?” That’s a skills-based, professional development question. On the other hand, the question, “How do I move from a manager-level position to director or vice president?” is a career management-related question. For ASAE members, ASAE University is the resource that can help with the first question and AssociationCareerHQ helps with the second question. Your association might have a skills workshop series that addresses industry-specific professional development needs, and online or offline programs or resources available to help members plan their desired career track.
Associations do a great job providing professional development for their members and stakeholders, says Boxwood Career Solutions’ Carrie McIntyre, but could help themselves and their members further by thinking of their career-related tools under a banner of ‘career management.’
“The terms ‘talent management’ or ‘career management’ (when referring to an online career center) elevate the site in the minds of members from a place they should visit only when looking for a new job to a portal they need to visit regularly to ensure they’re aware or every available career advancement tool,” McIntyre said.
Furthermore, she stressed, “Referring to a career-related website as a hub for career management frequented by the active and passive job seekers whose attention employers want to grab can increase companies’ investment in your site. Positioning your career center as an all-in-one talent management tool will increase employer buy-in and the non-dues revenue your association may be able to earn.”
Shifting the focus from professional development and the use of job boards to the all-encompassing idea of ongoing career management can result in increased satisfaction from your members and supporting employers. Members who are encouraged to take advantage of your association’s career-related materials will realize more value from their membership. Meanwhile, increased contact with members online will result in higher ROI for your career center-supporting employers. Check out our article about starting or growing an online career center for ideas about how to incorporate a career management initiative at your association.