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How to Ask for Professional Development

professional development

Many employers tout professional development funds and time off as a job perk, but few truly follow through. It’s often a work culture issue. Perhaps a direct manager treats asking for outside training as being selfish, or coworkers seem overburdened when you take time off for a professional event or conference.  Here are ways to get the time and budget to train up the way you always intended to do.

  1. Check the employee handbook. Knowing what’s already offered is a critical first step. If there’s a policy already on the books for your professional development, great! You can frame your ask around using what’s already available to you. If there isn’t a policy in place, be sure to acknowledge that in your ask (but don’t be afraid to ask anyway). The Muse offers sample email templates that can help you find the right words.
  2. Justify your case. What’s in it for the organization? Be prepared with an overview of the time and cost of the opportunity balanced against its business benefit. You should be able to clearly and confidently explain the skills you hope to gain and how they will benefit your organization. See more tips on making your case for professional development here.
  3. Be considerate. Carefully consider the roadblocks that might stand in your way and do what you can to eliminate them. If your organization tends to make decisions slowly, try to plan well in advance so that there’s time to follow protocol. If getting a budget approved is the problem, perhaps show that you’re willing to invest some of your own money to make it happen as long as you can get the time off. Perhaps the training is something that could benefit your entire department. If that’s the case, offer to pay it forward. Perhaps you could lead a brown bag lunch or mentor others with the knowledge you’ll gain.

In most cases, there’s no harm in asking. If the answer is no, ask what it would take to make it happen in the future. Perhaps it’s simply a matter of working it into the budget for next year. If you prepare ahead of time, state your case thoughtfully, and anticipate what your manager may need from you to approve the request, you should be well on your way.