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Six tips to getting the most out of your CPD

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14th May 2014
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Some of these may sound obvious, but they still bear repeating. Nick Williams gives us some CPD pointers.

CPD is all too often seen as an interruption to the working day rather than a valuable opportunity for professional development. However in truth, if you set yourself in the right mindset and choose a course that you will gain benefit from,  CPD can be extremely rewarding. If you feel like you are yet to experience CPD sessions that add value, try and ascertain whether it is due to the actual content of the training or if there are things you could have done differently to get more out of them. Ultimately CPD should be seen as an opportunity to address challenges. Here are six tips to help you squeeze the most value out of CPD opportunities.

Pick a course you are likely to enjoy

On occasions when you are given a choice of a few CPD courses to attend, think about which one covers content that would be most enjoyable for you. If you enjoy the course, the chances of remembering and being able to apply what you have learned are higher.

If you are torn between more than one option or don’t feel like any of them particularly appeal to your interest; change tack. Think about which one is the most applicable to your job or the direction you want your career to go in. If enjoyment isn’t the most powerful force, career development is the next best stimulant for you to learn.

Turn up ready to learn

Your mindset is a huge factor in dictating how much value you will get out of a CPD course. You should ensure that you are ready to learn – that you have a means to take notes and if applicable, some sample work that you could use during the session to apply what you have learned.

Think about the course and its content – what questions do you have? What do you specifically want to know? Write these down and ensure that you have answers for them by the time the course is coming to an end and if not, ask the trainer.

Do some preparation

Preparing for a CPD course can not only ensure that you get the most out of it but can also support the previous point mentioned. Regarding the latter, so that you are relaxed and focused on the training, manage your workload beforehand accordingly. That way you can fully participate in the CPD course without having the distracting anxiety about work.

Another way to prepare for a CPD course to ensure you get the most value from it is to get a head start. Start reading up on some of the content so that when the training is underway, you understand what is being covered and may even be able to extend some of the knowledge.

Collaborate with others

Working with others during the course and discussing ways to apply it to your work can be extremely conducive to learning. Gaining support from professional colleagues is a great way to get more value out of CPD sessions as it nurtures enthusiasm for learning and provides an opportunity to throw around different ideas many of which could be useful.

A way to extend the reach of discussion is to search for any online communities who share practice and discuss ideas. Whether you simply read through the content that others have written or actively participate; it is a good way to ensure that what you have learned continues to be enriching.

Be a reflective practitioner

In line with reflecting upon aspects of your work that you deem challenging, it is important to think about what parts of the training you can specifically apply to combat these challenges. Try to apply the knowledge and/or skills as soon as possible after the CPD, while it is still fresh in your mind.

Keep the momentum going

Feeling like you have gained value out of a CPD session shouldn’t be a one-off occurrence. In order to keep the momentum of your professional development through these training opportunities, reflect upon what your next CPD targets should be.

Not only can CPD keep skills up to date and prepare you for more responsibility, but it can be confidence boosting and strengthen your approach to tackling challenges. Make sure you do not miss out on the valuable opportunity and do what you need to do to squeeze the most value out of CPD.

Nick Williams works for Acuity Training, who provide hands-on professional training from their two UK offices. Nick works as an assistant on the SQL training courses as well as the majority of technical/development courses.

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