Time off? Forget vacationing

What would you do if you had more paid time off? Sure, we could all use more vacation time — think sandy beaches — but your time might be better spent on professional development.

Crazy? Not quite. While unplugging is important, so is developing your professional skill-set. We often get so caught up in our daily tasks that we leave little room to hone our existing skills and acquire new ones.

Possessing a wide range of skills increases your chance for promotion or job offers at different companies. The more diverse your skill portfolio, the more responsibility — and, ultimately, salary — you can accrue.

Some people think the length of time you spend at any one job is what matters most to potential employers. Not so, it’s more about what you know, what you accomplished and how you grew.

Surprisingly, many candidates don’t include professional development and additional education on their resumés. If you’ve attended industry conferences or taken some related courses, include them — they’re proof that you’re looking to learn and grow within your industry, and that you’re highly engaged in your field.

Many employers actually offer paid time off for professional development; some will even put money forward to pay for courses and additional training.

If your company doesn’t offer this kind of help and you have some leftover vacation time, use it to grow. I have a friend who takes a half-day of “vacation” every week to attend a course outside of her field at a local campus. Though not directly related to her current line of work, the course is helping her expand her skill-set and make a move toward a new field.

Think about your career in the next five to 10 years. Where do you want to be? Align your strategy and make the most of your career by investing in yourself instead of that island vacation. It’s worth it.

Julie Tyios is the marketing manager and chief matchmaker at Vestiigo.com, a career destination for young professionals. Contact her at julie@vestiigo.com.