How to Respond When Online Application Asks about Your Professional Development

Michelle writes:
First thank you very much for creating such wonderful website.
I found it’s extremely useful!
I am in the process of applying some jobs and experiencing difficulty
with answering a few competency questions on the online application form.
Here’s the question: “Describe how you have demonstrated initiative in
extending your personal learning and developing yourself outside the
educational environment. Describe the activities you have undertaken
why this demonstrated initiative and what you have learned.”
I would be most grateful for any advice you can offer.

The Career Doctor responds:
What the employer is seeking about you is whether you have been actively involved
in professional-development activities. This is a question for all job-seekers but
perhaps even more important for older applicants… because the prospective
employer basically is asking whether you have kept your skills current with the
latest innovations and technologies in your field.
This question reinforces again the importance of developing a career portfolio…
which would contain copies of your resume reference list professional development
activities awards and commendations certifications and licenses volunteering
and community service and work samples. If you had already developed a portfolio
this question would be fairly easy to answer.
So what you need to do is make a list of all the conferences workshops and
seminars you have attended. Even though the question states “outside the
educational environment” I would also include any certifications or refresher
courses you have taken since your last degree.