Being a professional means constantly seeking out opportunities to grow in the industry and advance your career. Unfortunately, because of the demands of a modern job, the time that employees have to explore the available options is limited.

Here, 12 associates of Forbes Human Resources Council explore how busy employees can find the time necessary to seek out and benefit from available professional development opportunities — even with a packed schedule.



1.  Set a clear goal and make time to achieve it. If it’s a professional certification you are after, then set aside at least 30 minutes a day to study. If it’s learning a desired skill, doing “microtraining” sessions is a quick way to ensure you are learning something new and staying on course to achieve your goal!

2.  Automate where you can. Subscribe to professional organization listservs or newsletters so that the latest information comes directly to you.

3.  Embrace self-paced e-learning. Self-paced e-learning is a valuable resource for employees who wish to expand their knowledge base, particularly if the employee is able to take some or all of the training during work hours.

4.  Be very candid about your skill gaps. Be very mindful of your career trajectory and goals. Then be very candid with yourself on what skill/knowledge gap you need to fill to propel you toward those goals. When you know where you want to go, and what you need to get there, it will help you to seek out opportunities to accomplish that. This will help you maximize the use of your time as you evaluate opportunities that come to you.

5.  Leverage microlearning sessions. There are short online courses, seminars and webinars that last 15-60 minutes that can help you develop and keep your skills up to date. A lot of educational tools are available specifically for mobile apps and can be completed week to week during a lunch break.

6.  Stay connected with experienced leaders. Stay connected with leaders who have relevant experiences and seek out others who have unfamiliar experiences. Next, use the Socratic method of learning, in which individuals have a cooperative argumentative dialogue where they ask and answer questions that encourage critical thinking and draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions.

7.  Ask to sit in on executive meetings. Being a “fly in the room” provides an opportunity to not only listen and ingest information you would not normally have access to, but also how the information is communicated, why it’s communicated, how different executives think about different topics, etc. Observation of leaders is one of the best ways to develop and grow.

8.  Leverage virtual resources. Everything is virtual, so take advantage of this convenience. LinkedIn Learning, Khan Academy and Coursera are all extremely convenient ways to develop yourself.

9.  Tap into webinars, conferences, podcasts. Since the pandemic, there’s been an abundance of free and low-cost webinars, seminars, and conferences on various platforms. You can register and then review on your own time if it doesn’t fit into that day’s schedule. Also tap into podcasts and audiobooks to keep current in your development.

10.  Register for events with recorded playback. Register for an event and attend as much as you can live, and then set time on your calendar within the next two weeks to keep the information relevant and watch/listen to the rest. This allows you to have information in smaller, easier-to-digest pieces, and there is no need to block out hours at a time.

11.  Have coffee catch-ups with someone you admire. Consider scheduling quarterly coffee catch-ups with someone you look up to. This could be a mentor, a department lead, or someone whose career you admire. By scheduling these ahead of time, you’ve already invested in your personal development by holding yourself and your coffee date accountable.

12.  Volunteer as a leader of a ‘solution sprint’. Identify a business challenge and present management with a quickly implemented yet quality solution that can make a big improvement. Be sure to include a detailed timeline, list of stakeholders, and key performance indicators to measure success. Then be ready to execute. Keep engagement high by focusing on the shortest path to achievement.

Finding time for professional development can be a real struggle, but doing so has a number of benefits. It can help to enhance your professional value and build up your expertise, and it makes you more capable when you’re faced with new challenges or given new responsibilities. Consider these tips to prioritize your growth and development.


Forbes (2020, November 16) Forbes HR Council: 12 Ways Busy Employees Can Seek Out Professional Development Opportunities