Becoming a Career Development Professional – Part 3

This is a continuation of the Becoming a Career Development Professional blog. Read Part 1 here.

What Education is Necessary to be a CDP?​

CDPs come from a wide variety of sectors and depending on the specific role they’re working in, they might need a Bachelor’s degree in a related sector (e.g., psychology, human resources, business administration). There may be a requirement for additional career-specific training or certification which is generally offered as professional development certificates through several training providers (e.g., our Career Management Professional Program). In Quebec, CDPs work within a regulated profession, so you will need a relevant credential to practice. Because of the wide variety of settings in which CDPs work and the diverse roles they play, their salaries, not surprisingly, can vary, averaging $40,000 to $65,000 annually. Those with higher education or in more niche roles might make more; those in government-funded or non-profits might make less.

How to Become a CDP?

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It’s important to start by fully researching what the profession entails. Consider conducting an informational interview or organizing a job shadow with a CDP to get a better sense of their daily duties and the work environment. Because there are many different places a CDP might work, you might want to consider conducting several informational interviews or job shadowing in several settings to understand the full spectrum of opportunities.

In addition, there are several professional associations dedicated to career work in a variety of Canadian provinces/territories (e.g., BCCDA) and nationally (e.g., CDPC, CERIC). Many of those associations and groups have details on the profession which can help support your decision. Be sure to take stock of the knowledge, skills, and abilities you hold and the opportunities in your area to determine if career practice is a good fit for you.

Becoming a Career Development Professional – Part 2

This is a continuation of the Becoming a Career Development Professional blog. Read part 1 here.

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Where Do CDPs Work?

CDPs work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Government and/or government-funded organizations serving the unemployed, precariously employed, and/or members of identified, marginalized groups (e.g., newcomers to Canada, Indigenous Peoples, at-risk youth)
  • Universities, colleges, and/or high schools supporting current students and alumni
  • Private organizations providing information, advice, and assistance for people who want to change jobs or develop new skills (e.g., a recruitment agency)
  • Training providers offering courses to adults who need new skills in order to get a job or advance in their current position (e.g., a training provider for nurses)
  • Charities, non-profit, or volunteer organizations serving underrepresented groups

What Skills Are Necessary to be a CDP?

To do their job effectively, it is vital that Career Development Professionals possess certain skills, including:

  1. Strong Communication Skills: CDPs work with people from all walks of life and must be able to communicate well with these individuals in person, over the phone, through email, and in virtual settings. Beyond individual clients, CDPs need to communicate with employers and educators, as well as funders and policy makers in some circumstances. CDPs need to be sensitive to the needs of each of these audiences, tailoring their approach as necessary. 
  2. Good Interpersonal (People) Skills: CDPs often support individuals in the midst of major life changes, whether those were planned (e.g., graduating from college) or unplanned (e.g., being fired from a job). They may be interacting with individuals with complex needs within dynamic (perhaps volatile) situations. Being able to offer understanding and empathy within a judgment-free environment is important in establishing trust and building rapport. With those essentials established, the CDP can move forward supporting the identification of goals and implementation of action plans to achieve those goals.
  3. Excellent Listening Skills: CDPs demonstrate their listening through both verbal (e.g., “okay”) and non-verbal cues (e.g., posture, head nodding, eye contact). These skills support not only the relationship-building component of the practitioner-client relationship, but also ensure needs are assessed accurately and reliably. CDPs may use probing or clarifying questions to confirm their understanding. 
  4. Top Teamwork Skills: CDPs are often working in collaboration with a larger team or network of service providers to support individuals. This means CDPs need to coordinate their work with others from within the organization who play different roles (e.g., job developers, resource room coordinators, workshop facilitators) and those outside the organization involved in their client’s action plan (e.g., student advisors, employers). 
  5. Patience: Given the lifelong, ongoing nature of the career development process, CDPs need to be patient with their clients. Unexpected setbacks, challenges, or barriers might mean considering an alternative path forward or revising the client’s action plan. This can be both frustrating and disappointing; CDPs provide assistance in a calm and supportive way through difficult times and/or changing circumstances.
  6. Self-Awareness: CDPs need to be aware of how their own feelings, personal experiences, and biases may impact the way they understand and work with clients. Engaging in thoughtful and ongoing self-reflection can help surface these aspects.
  7. Awareness of Diversity: CDPs operate from the understanding that an individual’s cultural identities interact and shape the way they understand, connect with, and experience the world. Cultural identities could include race, nationality, socio-economic status, and gender; however, this also extends to level of ability, history of trauma, educational background, and much more. CDPs should be humble, curious, and avoid making generalizations about how clients might identify and what impact that has had on their career.  
  8. Flexibility: CDPs need to be adaptable in their approach when working with clients as they will have unique circumstances, contexts, desires, and goals. Being able to adjust and offer a tailored, client-centred approach will ensure services are tied to a client’s needs.

Read Part 3 Here.

Becoming a Career Development Professional – Part 1

Have you ever wondered what a career development professional or practitioner is and how you can become one? If so, then you have come to the right place: we’re going to answer that question for you and more. 

What is a CDP?

CDPs are Career Development Professionals (or Practitioners) who work with individuals and/or groups to navigate their career journeys through self-reflection, career exploration, decision-making, and planning. The field is a growing and exciting one. CDPs use their creativity and imaginations to find customized and unique ways to help others. CDPs often serve as educators, mentors, role models, and advocates – all at the same time.

Career development has been around for many years in a variety of settings – in schools, workplaces, and community service agencies. As far back as ancient times, philosophers would discuss what was important in life and how to live decent lives with purpose. Those discussions continue today in the career development sector.

The term “career development professional” is not always a formal designation although many professional associations have begun to offer voluntary certification. CDPs tend to “go by” many other job titles depending on their specific job role and work settings. A career or employment counsellor, for instance, may be a trained counsellor who specializes in career and holds a counselling certification/designation. CDPs represent a wide variety of educational backgrounds, including psychology, sociology, education, business, economics, and more.

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What Are the Responsibilities of a CDP?

CDPs can provide a variety of services, including:

  • Assess client’s strengths/skills, interests, personal style, and values
  • Research labour market information, trends, and opportunities
  • Identify and discuss career possibilities with clients, particularly in fields that are growing/expanding
  • Access funding for training or professional development opportunities
  • Provide work search skills training (e.g., workshops, individual coaching)
  • Support clients to make decisions, set goals, and enact action plans
  • Aid in preparation of work search materials (e.g., resumes) and strategies (e.g., mock interviews)
  • Assist employers in recruitment, retention, and engagement of workforce
Read Part 2 Here.

Essential Professional Development Courses You Need to Take to Boost Your Career

The most important thing to remember is that you can never stop learning. It’s a cliche, but it’s true: the world of work changes so rapidly and new tools are being developed all the time. If you want your career to flourish, it’s vital that you keep up with the changes and stay relevant.

The good news is that there are lots of ways to do this. You can take a course, read books or articles, listen to podcasts, and more. There are plenty of ways to gain valuable skills and knowledge. Education doesn’t have to happen in a traditional classroom setting; you can learn in all sorts of ways and experience different things.

The key thing is that you need to be proactive about it.

What are the Most Popular Professional Development Courses?

The most popular professional development courses are those that help you advance your career. These can be found in various formats such as online classes or live workshops.

If you’re looking to take a course, be sure it’s one that will actually help you in the long run. Here are 10 professional development courses for professionals who want to take their careers to the next level:

1. Leadership Skills

One of the most important skills you can have is leadership. It’s one thing to be a great worker, supervisor, or manager; however, true leaders empower others to succeed as well. Learning how to be a better leader will take your career to the next level. You’ll learn how to motivate people, keep them on track, and get results. This will also help you build trust and respect from your coworkers and colleagues. Improving your leadership skills will enable you to get more done with less effort and have an easier time getting promoted, advancing your career, or taking on new projects.

2. Social Media Marketing

Social media is a great way to build your brand and attract more clients/customers. In today’s world, social media is pervasive so it’s important to be educated on how to use it effectively. Begin by learning the basics of social media marketing  – what platforms to use (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), how to get started (e.g., setting up your profile, scheduling posts, creating content). Consider how to use social media marketing within your organization strategically to meet your goals. 

3. Microsoft Suite of Programs

Microsoft suite of programs includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, and Outlook. These have been the backbone of most organizations but most companies and/or their workers aren’t fully utilizing the functionality. Familiarize yourself with the full potential by going beyond the basics either through Microsoft’s own supports or independent trainers.

For example, Excel is one of the most important tools you can learn when it comes to running a business or growing an organization. It’s used by everyone from accountants to data analysts. It’s not just for spreadsheets and simple calculations, it can do much more than that. 

4. Project Management

Project management is an important skill for anyone looking to grow their business or organization.  As projects grow in complexity, it can be difficult to keep track of all the moving elements. Knowing how to manage your projects, track progress, meet deadlines, and keep everything organized is a vital skill to keep teams moving forward together.

5. Communication Skills

Knowing how to communicate effectively and professionally with your colleagues, supervisors, and clients/customers is an asset. This might include verbal communication in-person, over the phone, or online, or written communication through email or messaging. Further, non-verbal communication plays an important role in any communication process. Develop your communication skills and learn how to talk to anyone confidently, express your own ideas, and understand the perspectives of others.

6. Business Writing

As you advance your career, you might be tasked with writing a wide variety documents – e.g., reports, status updates, proposals, contracts, memos, or presentation materials. Writing as clearly, concisely, and accurately as possible is a key to effective business writing. At times, these documents might also need to be persuasive in nature.

7. Data Analysis and Business Strategy

Understanding how to analyze data and make strategic decisions for your business is helpful so you know exactly what it is you’re reading. You’ll learn how to use the information from your reports, sales figures and customer feedback in order to improve your business.

8. Business Etiquette

Especially in the service industry, business etiquette is a vital skill. These are the skills you need in order to succeed in business and they include things like how to shake hands, greet your potential clients/customers, and make small talk. Essentially these all tie into making a good impression and that can vary across countries and circumstances. Learning the nuance of business etiquette will ensure communication can proceed smoothly.

9. Negotiation Skills

Basic negotiation is used in a variety of settings where the stakes are relatively low (e.g., extending the deadline to submit an assignment); however, in business, the stakes are higher (e.g., lost contracts/opportunities). Develop your negotiation skills to avoid costly mistakes or miscalculations, and secure the best outcomes for your business. 

10. Public Speaking

Public speaking is more than just speaking clearly and confidently in front of groups. It involves being clear and concise with your messaging as well as effectively planning to deliver an engaging presentation. Depending on the setting, this might include the integration of thoughtful multimedia or activities. 

11. Finance and Accounting

Knowing the basics of finance and accounting are important skills for everyone, especially those looking to advance their career. This can include learning how to read financial statements and balance sheets, interpret financial ratios, and how to create and maintain an accounting system. Some accounting software you might consider learning more about is Quickbooks.

12. Time Management

Time management is important for anyone looking to advance or manage their own career. Determining your priorities and organizing your tasks with calendars/reminders is only the beginning. Time management also involves managing your energy and workspace – consider when and where you are most productive and replicate those conditions.

13. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is as important to success at work as it is to success at school and in life. Emotional intelligence involves being able to identify and manage your emotions in positive ways. It also involved recognizing and responding to emotion in others. This skill can be developed through practice and can serve to improve communication, teamwork, and productivity by avoiding conflicts and miscommunications. 

14. Change Management

Managing change, whether that be planned or unplanned, can be tricky sometimes. Effectively supporting organizations and people through the transition process is a great skill to have in any role; however, for those considering moving into management roles or advancing their career, it’s essential. You may be tasked with implementing changes in policy, procedure, or strategic direction. 

What are the Benefits of Taking Professional Development Courses?

The benefits of professional development courses are innumerable. They provide a way for you to constantly and consistently improve your skills, no matter which industry or profession you’re in. You can learn new ideas, improve your skills, and better yourself.

From the point of view of an employer, investing in professional development courses is a great way to ensure that you have employees who are constantly improving themselves and their skills.