Most people know that the right kind of studies can open doors for you. However, even if you do have a degree (or two) under your belt, you still need to upskill from time to time if you want to stay at the top of your game.
If you worked your way up the career ladder, you could be stuck in your current role because you need formal qualifications to unlock your next career advance. However, once you are working full time, it’s very hard to make time for full time degree studies.
In both of these situations, professional diploma courses could be exactly the thing you need to take the next step. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is a Professional Diploma?
A professional diploma is a short course, usually offered by a reputable university or college, that focuses intensely on a particular study area or skillset. So instead of, for instance, completing a law degree, you might do a professional diploma that focuses specifically on contract law.
These diplomas take much less time to complete, they are much cheaper than a full degree, and they allow you to customize and “stack” your qualifications specifically for your role.
Just completing them is not enough to get you your next promotion – or that dream job offer! So, you need to make a few changes to get the maximum benefit from this type of credential.
1. Update Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn really is the best way to share your achievements with the world – and to grow your career. When you add your professional diploma to your LinkedIn profile you not only let people you already know about your achievements (like your boss!) but you also make it easier for headhunters to find you.
More and more recruiters use LinkedIn to find and approach candidates they’re interested in, and this can help you to appear in their searches.
2. Update Your CV
They say it’s all about who you know, but what you know matters a whole lot too. What you can prove you know is even more important.
Make sure that you include role relevant and career specific education like professional certificates in your CV. Stating your experience is always good, but if you have the paperwork to prove that you know a specific skill could be what sets you apart.
3. Emphasise Your Commitment to Lifelong Learning
People who get their degree and then never add any new skills for twenty years are far less valuable to most companies than people who are always willing and eager to learn.
This is particularly true when you are learning new skills that might not have been part of your degree program when you completed it. So, make sure people know you love to learn! Add the phrase “lifelong learner” to your resume and your LinkedIn profile. If you’re willing to learn through study, you’re probably willing to learn in any professional role, and that’s very attractive to most hiring managers.
4. Choose Your Professional Certificates Wisely
When you’re choosing professional certificates to add to your formal educational credentials, take some time to take stock of what you’re already qualified for, and what the role demands.
You might choose to pursue qualifications for skills that are relevant to your particular career and role, or you might choose to get certified in a universally useful skillset. Some examples could be communication skills or coding. Both of those skillsets would be very useful in any professional role.
5. Formalise Your Experience
Even if you completed a degree, there’s a chance you might be working in a vastly different field. It’s very common for people to have jobs doing something that is completely unrelated to their formal qualifications.
If that is the case in your career, you can use professional diplomas to formalize the skills you have gained in that role. While all experience and knowledge should matter equally, it can be hard for potential employers to gauge your skills and determine your suitability for a role if you don’t have formal qualifications.
If you want to do professional diplomas for this reason, look for courses and programs that are closely related to the job you do now, rather than your original field or fields of study.
6. Change Career Paths
It’s a lot more common these days for people to choose to make big changes mid-career. There are many lawyers who become pastry chefs and accountants who become programmers out there.
Professional diplomas can give you a solid basis for a dramatic career change like this. Plus, you can prepare for the big change while you are still in your “old” role.
7. Start Your Own Business
Starting your own business is another way that professional diplomas can help you to create the career and lifestyle of your dreams. Many, if not most, people dream about one day being their own boss.
However, if you’ve worked largely in a managerial, clerical, or unrelated field for most of your career, it can be hard to make the leap. You might doubt your skills, or just not know enough about your dream business idea.
Professional diplomas are a great way to learn the skills you need to make the transition while you are still employed in your professional role. Then, once you have enough skills and a solid business plan, you can make the leap with a little more confidence.
8. Build Your Network
When it comes to career success, each one of the ideas we’ve mentioned here can benefit enormously from knowing the right people. So, join groups related to your studies. Create or join a group with the people you took your course with, or an alumni group run by the institution you studied through.
Be sure to engage regularly and pay close attention for opportunities. These kinds of very specific networking groups can be a treasure trove of job tips, career hints and more. You can also use them to post your requests – so if you’re on the lookout for something specific, let the group know!
Short, Sharp, and Focused
Whether you are looking to climb the corporate ladder or make dramatic changes in your career, the right kind of studies can make all the difference.
Short, sharp, and focused professional diploma courses let you tailor your qualifications to your specific needs. They help you to put yourself at the top of any hiring shortlist or learn things you need to make a change – even if it’s lateral or into self-employment.
So, if you’re feeling stuck, and that your options are stagnant, it might well be time to add a few specific skills to your resume. As you can see, there are many ways new qualifications like these can open new doors, create, and invite new opportunities, and get you where you want to be.