Weekend Poll Results: Professional Development in 2019

With thanks to all who participated, here are your responses to my question … How do you stay on top of your game in 2019? In my latest Weekend Poll, I asked readers which resources you’re tapping into for your professional development.

63% dedicate time weekly to self-directed PD

Ideally, professional development (PD) is not an annual or semi-annual occurrence. In my experience, self-directed PD undertaken on a routine basis keeps you on your toes and helps you continue to add value to your organisation.

A full 63% of respondents reported that you dedicate time each week to self-directed PD. Another 21% said you’d not done so to this point, but may consider doing so.

What does self-directed PD look like? 

Well, for starters, reading Exceptional EA is one example. On that note …

Thank you for trusting me

There are a number of good career-related websites for assistants. When I asked how many such websites you read on a fairly regular basis, I was unsurprised to learn that 46% of respondents turn to anywhere from three to five of them – and another 25% regularly read a couple of such websites.

I’m pleased that Exceptional EA, which I launched six years ago this July, has become part of your self-directed PD. What I did not expect to learn was that, for almost one out of every five respondents (19%), you regularly read just one single assistant career-related website. Thank you to all who turn to me for your own career development – whether Exceptional EA is the sole career website you read, or one of a few.

Assistants have multiple additional resources to which you can turn, including …

Books, webinars, LinkedIn

A whopping 82% of respondents turn to books as a form of self-directed professional development. While 38% of respondents prefer hard copy books, 17% prefer ebooks. Almost half, 49% of respondents, like to read both hard copy and ebooks.

Webinars are very much part of assistants’ professional development in 2019. Just over three quarters of respondents (76%) reported that you already turn to webinars for PD.

Even more assistants, 91% of respondents, reported turning to LinkedIn articles and posts for your professional development. You can find many of my articles, including Weekend Poll results and Real Careers interviews, there as well.

Podcasts, YouTube and TED Talks

PD on your phone or at your desk: Shelagh’s April 2019 #adminchat interview with Lucy Brazier

Assistants will have noticed an increase in video content on LinkedIn, and you also have access to audio-visual training through YouTube presentations and interviews. For example, Lucy Brazier turned the tables on me earlier this year and asked me to give an interview for her #adminchat series. You can find that interview by clicking here.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents reported that you watch assistant career-focused YouTube presentations for professional development … and another 31% reported that you’ve not done so to this point, but may start doing so.

TED Talks have also made their way into PD undertakings for 59% of respondents.  Almost as many assistants, 56%, reported listening to podcasts as a form of professional development.

Then there’s Facebook

Privacy concerns remain a consideration for many assistants, and business news suggests that security and other concerns are on the rise. In March 2019, Edison Research published its findings that Facebook’s user base had declined by 15 million since 2017. The shrinkage is most significant amongst 12- to 34-year-olds.

While I know more than a few assistants who rarely or never use Facebook, it’s popular with the vast majority of respondents. Ninety-two percent reported belonging to or following assistant PD-related Facebook groups. More than half, 53%, reported belong to anywhere between three and five such groups.

Let’s not forget conferences

Not all assistants attend conferences, but 70% of respondents reported that you already have or will do so during 2019. In fact, 50% of respondents will maintain the status quo, attending the same number of conferences in 2019 as you did last year. Seven percent will attend fewer such events this year compared to 2018, but 43% reported that you’ll attend more conferences in 2019 than in 2018. In fact, 19% of respondents reported on plans to attend three or more conferences this year.

Professional associations and other networks

While 83% of respondents reported being active members of external networks or professional associations, only 26% reported belonging to an internal network. Fifty-nine percent of respondents said there are no such networks at their respective workplaces.

Forty-two percent of respondents reported belonging to sector- or industry-specific networks. Just over half, 54%, belong to city- or region-specific professional associations or networks – and those numbers increase to 81% of respondents when it comes to participation in national associations and networks. What of international associations and networks? Thirty-nine percent of respondents reported deriving professional development through such associations.

But do you invest your own resources in PD?

I asked readers if you invest personal finances in your professional development, and 68% of respondents said yes. For details on how much people invest, and insights on employer-funded professional development, have a look at the data, below.


Reading-Book-Courtesy-Jason-Strull-UnsplashNote: Information below reflects the percentage of respondents who selected specific responses from multiple choice options.

1. Do you dedicate time within your work week to self-directed professional development (PD)? 

  • Yes: 63% of respondents
  • No: 16% of respondents
  • Not to this point, but I may start doing so: 21% of respondents

2. Do you read books as a form of PD?

  • Yes: 82% of respondents
  • No: 3% of respondents
  • Not to this point, but I may start doing so: 15% of respondents

3. If you read books as a form of PD, which do you prefer?

  • Hard copy: 38% of respondents
  • Hard copy and ebooks: 49% of respondents
  • Ebooks:  17% of respondents

4. Do you listen to podcasts as a form of PD?

  • Yes: 56% of respondents
  • No: 29% of respondents
  • Not to this point, but I may start doing so: 15% of respondents

5. Do you read LinkedIn articles/posts as a form of PD?

  • Yes: 91% of respondents
  • No: 9% of respondents
  • Not to this point, but I may start doing so: 0% of respondents

6. How many assistant career-related websites do you read on a fairly regular basis?

  •   1:   19%of respondents
  •   2:  25of respondents
  • 3-5: 46% of respondents
  • 6-9: 8% of respondents
  • 10 or more: 2% of respondents

7. Do you belong to or follow any Facebook assistant PD-related groups?

  • Yes:  92% of respondents
  • No:  7% of respondents
  • Not to this point, but I may start doing so:  1% of respondents

8. If you belong to any Facebook assistant career-related groups, how many?

  •   1:   13%of respondents
  •   2:  22of respondents
  • 3-5: 53% of respondents
  • 6-9:  9% of respondents
  • 10 or more: 3% of respondents

9. Do you watch TED Talks (or TED-style talks) as a form of PD?

  • Yes: 59% of respondents
  • No: 21% of respondents
  • Not to this point, but I may start doing so: 20% of respondents

10. Do you watch assistant-career-focused YouTube presentations as a form of PD?

  • Yes: 38% of respondents
  • No: 31% of respondents
  • Not to this point, but I may start doing so: 31% of respondents

11. Have you (or will you) participate in a conference this year as part of your professional development?

  • Yes:  70% of respondents
  • No:  30% of respondents

12. How many conferences do you anticipate attending this year?

  • 0: 24% of respondents
  • 1: 31of respondents
  • 2: 26of respondents
  • 3: 14% of respondents
  • 4:  2% of respondents
  • 5:  3% of respondents
  • 6:  0% of respondents
  • 7 or more:  0% of respondents

13. How will your 2019 participation in conferences compare with last year?

  • 50% of respondents: I’ll attend the same number of conferences this year as I did last year
  • 43% of respondents: I’ll attend more conferences this year than I did last year
  •  7% of respondents: I’ll attend fewer conferences this year than I did last year

14. Do you participate in an internal network at your workplace?

  • Yes:  26% of respondents
  • No:  16% of respondents
  • No, but that’s because we don’t have one:  59% of respondents

15. Are you an active member of any external professional associations or networks?

  • Yes:  83% of respondents
  • No:  17% of respondents

16. To how many external professional associations/networks do you belong?

  • 0:  0% of respondents
  • 1: 42of respondents
  • 2: 30of respondents
  • 3: 26% of respondents
  • 4:  0% of respondents
  • 5:  2% of respondents
  • 6 or more:  0% of respondents 

17. Do you belong to any sector- or industry-specific networks?

  • Yes: 42% of respondents
  • No: 58% of respondents

18. Do you belong to a city- or region-specific professional association or network?

  • Yes:  54% of respondents
  • No:  46% of respondents

19. Do you belong to a national professional association or network?

  • Yes: 81% of respondents
  • No:  19% of respondents

20. Do you belong to an international professional association or network?

  • Yes: 39% of respondents
  • No: 61% of respondents

21. Do you invest your personal finances in your professional development?

  • Yes: 68% of respondents
  • No:  12% of respondents
  • I have in the past, but not lately: 19% of respondents
  • Not to this point, but I may start doing so: 1% of respondents

22. How much of your own finances, expressed in US dollars, will you invest in your professional development this year?

  • $0: 19% of respondents
  • Up to $500 US:  51% of respondents
  • $500 – $1,000 US: 17% of respondents
  • $1,001 – $1,500 US:  0% of respondents
  • $1,501 – $2,000 US:  7% of respondents
  • $2,001 – $2,500 US:  2% of respondents
  • More than $2,500 US:  4% of respondents

23. If your employer funds your professional development, in part or in full, please identify the sector in which you work.

  • Private sector: 43% of respondents
  • Public sector: 31% of respondents
  • Not for Profit, Charity or NGO: 26% of respondents
  • Private (individual/family) employer: 0% of respondents

23. Do you participate in webinars as part of your PD?

  • Yes: 76% of respondents
  • No: 9% of respondents
  • Not to this point, but I may start doing so: 15% of respondents

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