As I’ve previously stated, in my personal job search I’ve engaged with recruiters and advisors. One recruiter made a very interesting statement that I found profound and decided to pass on. Peter Weddle of Weddle’s, LLC said, “Gaps in resumes are self-inflicted.” He went on to explain that in this day and age when the amount of new knowledge absorbed by human beings is hundreds of times more than in centuries or even decades past, significant opportunities for personal and professional development exist. So if you are in a job search that takes six to nine months or you took time off to recover from a failed enterprise or to care for an aging parent or whatever your reason is or was, “there need be no gap in your resume” because you can fill it with personal development.
Peter later paraphrased it another way, “Fill an employment gap by employing yourself with personal development.” As a business owner or executive, one key skill set that is required of you and/or your leadership team is the ability to develop your personnel. Companies with employees with low morale, minimal opportunity for advancement, and no training or development opportunities have high turnover rates and much slower growth trajectories. They also tend to have significantly smaller profit margins. In addition, in a recession these problems become critical as symptoms of even deeper problems and often lead to the demise of companies.
So if it is so important to develop your personnel, it only makes sense that you engage in some introspection and develop yourself as well. How great of a leader can you ultimately be if you can develop your team (or hire someone who can) but you cannot do the same for yourself? When is the last time you identified a personal or professional area of weakness that could use some strengthening? Or an interest that you have that could assist you but you have not yet taken the time to pursue? Is your business interested in expanding into China? It may be difficult for you to learn a new language but you can still take a class, read books, join a Chinese business association or similar activity to help you learn the culture and operating environment.
Or perhaps you are stressed out from running the business and suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other ailments which could potentially lead to an early demise. Why not take up a hobby that helps alleviate your stress? The year I bought my first company I ran track. The intense practices were a godsend, allowing me to allay a host of worries related to the acquisition. But that discipline level helped in other ways. I learned something that will help me and any company I work for or own in the future. This is what personal and professional development is all about. You are a key building block for a great company. The stronger and flexible you are, the stronger and flexible your company will be.