Continuing Professional Development: What Does CPD Actually Mean?

Written by Joe Levell & Sophie Scoular Wednesday 07 August 2019
So you’re on the management career path. How does a systematic commitment to CPD benefit you in future?
hand writing on planner

Let’s start with the basics: CPD means, simply, continuing your professional development. All events, articles, networking and life experience that increases your knowledge and skills is considered part of your CPD, which is tracked so that employers and student bodies can see evidence of your development. You can also use your CPD log in performance appraisals and job applications.

Sophie Scoular, a recent graduate with a BA in Business Management and Marketing from Nottingham Trent University, logged her CPD as part of her CMI-accredited degree. She says they carried out a gap analysis at the beginning of the year, “to evaluate what areas we wanted to you’re not wasting time on events that don’t have that much of an impact.”

CMI recommends logging your development activity through the online ManagementDirect portal or by filling in a CPD template. If you have specific questions for how to access and fill in a template, visit our FAQs. Sophie used an offline template, filling in the CPD activity’s logistical details as well as a description of the nature of the activity and the value or lesson that she took away from it, and recommends logging your CPD activities as soon as possible, while you can still remember your key takeaways.

The benefits of CPD

In interviews and appraisals, you can use your CPD log to show your progression and knowledge. “I have used it in interviews and will continue to use it in interviews,” says Sophie, to “help you identify areas that you can talk about.”

Taking the initiative to self-reflect and create an action plan for your career development is a key self-management skill that employers are looking for. By creating a skills plan, you can target specific areas of CPD activity to help improve upon any weaknesses, and know what topics to search for and read up on. Sophie, for example, knew that she wanted to develop her commercial awareness, so searched for relevant content on CMI Insights and LinkedIn Learning.

Making CPD count

So, onto how CMI looks at CPD activity. “They don’t want to see ‘I watched a webinar’ three times, they want to see different areas,” Sophie says. “One of the big areas they pushed [at university] was the graduate and recruitment fair, which was there to improve our networking skills by getting out there and talking to people.”

In a similar way, each stream of CMI’s content has been developed to help you hone your skills. There are think-pieces, insightful interviews, focused events, and practical advice, each with a clear learning outcome and takeaway, so you can keep moving forward in your career.

We categorise CPD as a four-stage cycle: reflection, planning, action, and evaluation. The key questions you’re trying to answer are:

  • What are my needs and objectives?
  • What am I going to do to achieve this?
  • What have I done to move forward?
  • What have I learnt?

Though some organisations differ, here at CMI we believe that CPD is better evaluated by its impact on your career than through points or hours –a 300-word article may teach you as much as a three-day workshop.

So, what do you need to understand about that thing called CPD? In summary, CPD is a systematic commitment to maintaining your personal competitive advantage.

CMI is here to help you in that professional development. You can use our Insights articles on content from how to build a CV or how to interview well to communicating bad news and being resilient to add to your own CPD log. Check out our FAQs for more information.

If you're a CMI member you can access tailored resources and support for your professional development. Not yet a member? Join now.

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Joe Levell & Sophie Scoular

Joe Levell & Sophie Scoular

Student Engagement Manager at CMI, supporting our student community to make the most of CMI’s membership benefits! A recent graduate from Nottingham Trent University with a First Class Honours degree in Business Management & Marketing.