Brighton School of Business and Management Student Newsletter January 2010
Contributions ~ information, advice, links, ideas, that may be of help to other students ~ are very welcome ~ please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Best wishes for 2010!
A small amount of articles this issue, but important ones, focusing on taking a positive approach to Professional Development Action Planning.
Food for Thought 1
Marketing Yourself Successfully
This article is designed to provide advice and guidance on strategies and tactics that will make you more attractive to current and potential employers, or to customers and clients if an entrepreneurial route is taken.
The Need To Be Marketable
Around the world the market for skilled people, for professionals, for generalists and specialists, is increasing exponentially. Ironically, at the same time the market is demanding only specific skills, knowledge, understanding, experience and qualifications, and these are often not the traditionally known ones. Remaining marketable in such fast changing and demanding times is now essential if an individual is to continue to be successful in their work. It is not enough to have traditional skill sets, nor rely on qualifications which have been superseded by more modern versions or completely replaced. To remain marketable it is essential to continuously, appropriately, and visibly, update your qualifications, skills, knowledge, and understanding. Additionally, in many business sectors you will need to demonstrate that your experiences are also current, varied, and relevant.
Applying The Marketing Concept
Successful providers of goods or services adopt what is known as the Marketing Concept. This, in essence, is the producing or selling organisation focusing primarily on identifying the needs and wants of the customer or client.
To remain marketable, to be successful in finding new opportunities, to make good progress in whatever field you have chosen, you will need to adopt the marketing concept yourself. This means researching what your current or potential employers, or clients, actually want. If you are intent on staying within your current organisation, you must research and establish what their current and future people needs are – what skills, experience, expertise, qualifications, are they seeking from their key people. To highlight the importance of this, consider what an external applicant, applying for a post in your organisation, would do. They would carry out research and present themselves in a way which matches the needs of the organisation as closely as possible.
Researching Your Target Markets
You will need to consider which markets you are targeting – which business sectors and which organisations, or which clients and customers if you are setting up a business. This is not an easy task but it is critical that you do this well. If you are planning to remain employed then much information is readily available, directly from organisations and from business sector trade organisations, indirectly from sector reports, educational research, educational institutions who provide sector or profession specific courses, educational departments of professional associations, marketing companies, government departments. If you are planning to set up a business, then you will need to carry out market research on your potential customers or clients. Armed with information on the current and forecast condition and the current and future people or services needs, of your target markets, you can then move on to the next step.
Identifying Your Current Attributes
The essential second step is to carry out an analysis of your current skills, experience, qualifications, and ongoing development activities. The best and most simple tool to do this with is the SWOT analysis: identifying your strengths and weaknesses and then the opportunities available to you and the threats that face you. You can do this alone, but it is much better to seek help from others, such as a coach, mentor, human resource specialist, line manager, or friend who can give advice and support objectively.
Improving Your Profile
When you have confirmed your strengths consider how these can be enhanced. When you have identified your weakness (in relation to your target’s needs) you should plan how to reduce or eliminate them. In both areas, this will probably mean taking on personal and-or professional development activities, which we will discuss below. Opportunities will need to be assessed in two stages: firstly those available to you now, given your current profile, and secondly those that will be available to you after you have made yourself more marketable, by enhancing your strengths and taking positive action to eliminate or reduce your weaknesses. Threats are also best assessed in two stages: firstly those currently facing you, and secondly those that are likely to arise in the future. As you can see, identifying your current attributes is a major task, but one that is highly valuable and essential if you are to move forward successfully.
Identifying Transferable Attributes
As we are illustrating in this article, your most valuable transferable skill may well be that of being willing to continuously develop yourself. That aside, there are other attributes that will be highly valuable. Whether you are considering moving into another business sector, or setting up your own business, then in the process of carrying out the SWOT analysis, you should add a category where you can list your current transferable skills. These are skills, experience, qualifications, knowledge, that you already possess and which will be valuable in your new work situation. These attributes can range through the hard to the soft, and can include contacts, experiences, specialist expertise, a passion for certain type of work, qualifications, internet skills, foreign languages, and so on.
Personal Development Activities
After you have completed the analysis of your targeted markets, and of your current skills, the next step is to draw up a development action plan that will fill identified gaps, enhance strengths, reduce or eliminate weaknesses, prepare you to take advantage of opportunities and equip you with the means to defend against threats.
You are already working through a Personal Development activity, studying one of our courses, but you need to keep your Personal Development Plan up to date, and add to it when necessary.
In addition to the necessary personal development activity, there are other avenues that should be explored. These include: networking, which is seen in some sectors as a valuable marketing tool for employed and for self-employed people; building a presence by publishing articles, in relevant journals or internet directories or publishing a weblog, or even writing and publishing a book on your business specialism; taking on public speaking; joining and participating in local branches of professional associations. These are but a few of the many ways of promoting yourself, which can be explored in more depth through research on the internet.
The message here is very simple. You must take action. Whatever your “marketplace” it will be highly competitive and highly demanding. You will need to be actively managing your participation, your self-marketing, in order to be amongst the successful participants.
Making yourself more marketable, more attractive, more credible, more interesting, is an essential skill in today’s highly competitive, complex, and fast-changing business world. The need to show evidence of continuous personal and professional development is no longer expected of the few, or in certain professions only. It is now mandatory in all business sectors, and in all organisations, be they private or public, commercial or non-profit making.
The most successful individuals embrace this requirement and add it to the range of skills that they equip themselves with, and then develop it with passion and commitment. To make yourself more marketable you have to take that task very seriously, and commit appropriate effort and energy to it.
Written by the Tutor Team at Brighton School of Business and Management.
Food for Thought 2
Managing Change – A Personal Approach
with acknowledgements to management thinkers and authors Don Greene and Rosabeth Moss Kanter.
As with any planned change, including professional development action planning, unexpected blocks will appear and you’ll make mistakes. There is a tendency to see these as ‘disasters’ that will cause the change to fail. But by adopting a thoughtful and professional approach to the planning of your personal development, most of the mistakes, barriers, and difficulties that change brings, can be overcome.
Don’t go it alone
When planning personal and professional development activity, it is essential that you consider the impact on your partner, family, friends, and work colleagues. Not all are relevant to every individual, and not all are equally important, but you should discuss your options and plans with them and consider their views, where appropriate, because their support will be vital to you as you work towards achieving your objectives.
Many factors are not within your control, so be prepared to face the unexpected. It is impossible to predict every single consequence of something new or different. Deal with the unexpected as best you can, make changes to your plans if necessary, and then continue with confidence.
There will be times when continuing with your professional development becomes difficult. This is when you need to go back to your original reasons for developing yourself:
Improving your future prospects, gaining promotion, moving into a new profession, earning more money, enjoying a better work-life balance, starting your own business – whatever the original objectives were, ask yourself if you still want to achieve them, or something close to them.
If the answer is Yes, then re-focus, strengthen your determination, and continue!
If the answer is No, then re-think your plans, and prepare a new, more relevant action plan.
Not changing is not an option
Remember the concept embodied in the Gap Analysis model – “If you do not change, you do not remain the same – you decline”
Edited by the Tutor Team at Brighton School of Business and Management
Membership of Management and Specialist Organisations
Membership of a professional institute or organisation can be of great help in providing support, information, and guidance on professional development matters, plus the chance to talk with other professionals in your field.
If your profession or specialism has a recognised professional organisation that you could join, this is worth considering, as it can be a valuable addition to your professional profile, and is evidence that you are serious about your professional status.
Here are a few well known UK based organisations that our tutor team recommend, most of which have international branches which you can join in your country or region:
CQI ~ Chartered Quality Institute
IOD ~ Institute of Directors
IEMA ~ Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment
Study Resources of the Month
There are hundreds of sector and technique-specific books on Personal and Professional Development ~ however, here are three that our tutors can recommended:
Reaching Your Potential: Personal and Professional Development
by Throop and Castellucci – publisher Delmar Learning
Planning and Organizing Personal and Professional Development
by Chris Sangster – publisher Gower Publishing
Personal Career Development for Professionals
by Joseph A. Raelin – publisher Beard Books USA
On our website we now have a direct link to the Amazon Management Books section ~ to use this go to our Study Bookshops page.
Student Recommended Resources
www.mindtools.com you suggested this in one of your newsletters – it was a good choice – an excellent source of information” ~ our thanks to Nada
www.bcjobs forget the jobs in British Columbia – the advice is fabulous! …” ~ our thanks to Rupinder
Advice from the Gurus
Let us strive to improve ourselves, for we cannot remain stationary. You either progress or decline.
Mme. Marie Du Deffand (1) ~ French patron of the arts, friend of Voltaire and Napoleon
Les Brown ~ Motivational Speaker
If you don’t program yourself, life will program you.
Les Brown ~ Motivational Speaker
Everybody has talent, it’s just a matter of moving around until you’ve discovered what it is.
George Lucas ~ Film Producer and Director
Don’t think of yourself as the architect of your career – but as the sculptor. Expect to have to do a lot of hard hammering and chiseling and scraping and polishing.
BC Forbes ~ Founder of Forbes business magazine
The distance is nothing. It is only the first step that is difficult.
Mme. Marie Du Deffand (2)
Useful Study Links
will generate many useful links
many articles on personal and professional development issues and topics
go to Business & Finance, then to Human Resources for huge amounts of advice and information
http://www.planning.org.nz written for the NZ Planning Institute members, but an excellent source of high quality information – search for “continuing professional development” within the site search box
http://www.mftrou.com go to /personal-development-plan.html for templates and guidance
http://www.aua.ac.uk go to /LGM/PDPtemplate.pdf for an excellent PDP template plus: