18 December 2013

Keeping up-to-date...

Things change so fast in our field (technical communication) that it can be difficult to keep up. What can be even more difficult is providing some evidence that you’re at least making the effort. That’s why I’m pleased that the ISTC’s CPD framework is finally up and running. (I’m also pleased because getting it to this stage has taken an inordinate amount of my time over the last 18 months.)

So, aside from getting my life back, why am I so pleased?

Well, in line (I guess) with just about anyone who takes what they do seriously and want to do it to the best of their abilities, I am constantly learning. I don’t mean I’m constantly attending training courses – although I do some of that too – but that I work on a different project, find out how to use a new tool, come across a technique that someone shares... and I find I’ve learnt something really useful.

My problem, until now, was that although I knew I’d learnt lots of good ‘stuff’, put on the spot in an interview or when writing a covering letter for a job, I couldn’t always remember what I’d learnt when, or what the context was at the time. In short, I couldn’t tell a coherent story to support my application.

Now that’s not a problem.

I’m a Fellow of the ISTC myself – and although all our members have a requirement to keep up-to-date, I can now prove it. I have to maintain a CPD record to keep my Fellow status, which makes it all the more valuable to me.

And having to keep a record means that the information that was previously just swimming around in my head and had been absorbed into ‘normal working practice’ can now be accessed as discrete pieces of information and referenced.

You know what it’s like – you’re writing a covering letter to apply for a contract and you’re desperately trying to think how you can show you’ve met a particular requirement. Now instead of frantically trying to remember, I can just have a quick glance at my learning record instead.

Couldn’t I have recorded this anyway? Well, to be honest, I often did... but not to the same level, as it was only notes for my own use. Now there is a little more meat on the bones.

If I want to think of myself as a professional (and more importantly want others to do so), I need to start acting like one.