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Definition of CPD 

CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development. It encompasses all of the training you complete after induction and onboarding. However, it more specifically refers to the way you track and document your development journey. It includes both formal and informal training; you simply need to have documented the experience, learning and application of your new and improved knowledge, skills, and behaviours.

However, organisations will often now integrate CPD into their L&D and performance management processes, enforcing the logging of training plans for each and every staff member. Similarly, membership of some professional bodies may be predicated on you keeping a training and development log. However, CPD is primarily for the benefit of the individual – it allows them to track their improvement over time, and the methods that have worked, and they can display this to their current and potential future employers as a display of their skillset and willingness to learn. It is not to be considered a tick-box exercise, but something hugely beneficial to their development as a worker and an individual.

Key features of CPD

  • A standardised, documented process.
  • Primarily self-directed.
  • A focus on learning, review, and improvement of methods.
  • Individually driven objectives, including personal and holistic goals.
  • A combination of form and informal learning.


How you benefit from CPD

In general terms, CPD is a wonderful method that provides you with a living document, facilitating an ongoing, iterative journey, with reference points to review and improve upon as you hone the options and methods you are using for training and learning. Specifically:

  • It provides you with a full, detailed summary of all your personal and professional development to date.
  • It is a benchmark, reminding you of your achievements and how far you have come already.
  • It helps you keep a steady eye on your career path, making sure you are still on track to achieve all your goals.
  • It can act as a tool for deep dives into your skills, knowledge and behaviours, helping to identify any gaps.
  • It can provide you with examples and scenarios that can be used in appraisals, reviews and job interviews.
  • It means you can exhibit your standing and credentials to clients and potential employers.
  • It can help you find your way when you are looking to possibly change your career.

Getting started with CPD

So, what are my first steps? Well, you have to start by creating a log for you to store all of your CPD activities. As well as providing you with a reference point, writing down your learning experiences will also force you to reflect on your growth and development again after the fact, allowing you to glean greater insights.

Your log can be structured however you like and can be as detailed as you like; however, there are a number of key areas you should look to cover.

Start by asking...


Where am I now?

What have you done over the last year? What have you achieved? What have you learned? What might have you done differently? After this first logging, it will be easier to log CPD opportunities as they come continually. However, this first bit of reflection will help set the scene and evaluate you in your current state. Make sure to include:

  • Training, workshops, seminars, and courses.
  • Any reading you have undertaken around best practices, legislation, etc.
  • Shadowing, mentoring, coaching, and other on-the-job learning you have taken on from others.
  • Any new responsibilities or projects and how you approach them.
  • And importantly, any mistakes or critical incidents and what you would have done differently.


Where do I want to get to?

As if you were in an appraisal, evaluate your career and life goals for the next one, two, five, and 10 years. Be as specific (SMART) as you can, but the longer away the goals are, the broader and more visionary you can leave them.

What do I have to do to get there?

With your goals in front of you, and your prior CPD experiences, make a note of what you think you need to do in order to meet your objectives. Consider what is available to you, what suits your learning style, and what has worked in the past. For short-term objectives, specifically, consider what you need to do tomorrow to get started on your journey.

How will I know when you get there?

Make sure to include success measures for each of your goals, but definitely for your short-term ones. Hopefully, you will feel it when you are where you want to be, but that is not always the case. Therefore, it is useful to set in place milestones that indicate when you have crossed the finish line.

How will I make sure you’re still on track?

Related to the above, make sure to put in place dates where you will review progress towards each of your goals. Depending on what these are, that could be monthly, quarterly, biannually, annually, etc. Just ensure that there is a date written down in your diary and you won’t forget about it! It should also be regular enough that you do not forget about progress in the meantime and can keep your focus on the finish.

And that's that!

You're ready to get going on your CPD journey. Open your log, begin reflecting, and take charge of your career, and your future.