In the weeks leading up to this year's NRWA conference, the government sequester led numerous government agencies — including several that provide career services — to cut their budgets, including funds available for employees to attend conferences and online trainings.
On the NRWA E-List, a government employee expressed her regrets that she would not be in Chicago next week because her agency did not have the funds to send her. A self-employed resume writer replied that she should consider paying to attend the conference herself.
I've thought about this for a few weeks now, and wanted to address this topic in a blog post.
As a self-employed resume writer myself, I've never had the luxury of applying for training funds to cover my professional association dues, online training program registration fees, or conference expenses (including airfare, hotel rental, conference registration, and meals/entertainment).
When I choose to participate in these activities, I am making an investment in myself, my business … and, most important, my clients. When times are tight, I might only invest a small amount — buying a new reference book or two, registering for a NRWA teleseminar (only $19.99 as a member), or one of Wendy and Louise's E-Summits (for $69).
But every couple of years at least, I invest more. Next week, I'll be in Chicago for the NRWA conference. The investment will be significant. Usually, I estimate that conference attendance for one person averages $1200 (including transportation, hotel, meals, and conference registration fees). The Chicago conference will be substantially more for me, not only because I'm bringing along my husband (it will be his fourth conference, but the first one he's actually registered to attend the sessions), we're exhibiting (to promote Resume Writers' Digest and BeAResumeWriter.com), and the discounted rate at the Courtyard by Marriott Magnificent Mile Downtown Chicago is $184/night plus tax.
I wrote a blog post earlier this year about "If You Want to Keep Earning, You Need to Keep Learning."
The same is true for government employees. If your agency has cut its training budget, consider making a personal investment in your skill development. For one thing, your clients will benefit. Second, YOU will benefit. Not only will you improve your knowledge, but you'll also be gaining networking connections and marketing skills that can benefit you should your job be in jeopardy from further government cuts. You can write resumes and see clients as a part-time job, and if you are furloughed, you can make up lost income through private work.
It's probably too late for you to sign up for Chicago, but the Career Directors International conference is coming up in October, and Career Thought Leaders is returning to an in-person format in Baltimore (plus an online component) next March.
If you're a government employee, an employee of a college or university, or a self-employed resume writer … invest in yourself!