Imagine that an executive, a recruiter or a prospective employer is reviewing your 10-year work history in facilities management. Will they see 10 years of experience or 1 year of experience times 10?
Developing strategic skills helps to ensure that they see 10 years of experience. Professional development is one way to provide proof of those skills. If your organization’s management sees your FM team’s primary responsibilities as keeping the facility clean and fixing what’s broke, you can’t avoid the perception of a cost center.
Even if you spend a good deal of your time on such primary responsibilities, you can still strive to insert yourself into other discussions in the organization. With a professional development course in energy management under your belt, would your executives be more interested in hearing about your idea for an efficiency project that saves money? After passing a course in indoor air quality and green cleaning, would the executives feel they are prepared for any challenges stemming from federal “right to know” laws on environmental hazards in the workplace? Budgeting is a key skill in every organization. Would completion of a business course give you a voice in budget discussions of knee-jerk cuts and an opportunity to show the facility’s impact on productivity?
Senior FMs may have less training in such matters than their colleagues in other departments like finance, planning and accounting. But that could be seen as an opportunity, the proverbial half-full glass. A local college or community college may offer you valuable coursework, although proximity is not critical with so much continuing education available online. BOMI International offers a Facilities Management Certificate (FMC), and of course IFMA offers three credentials: the Facility Management Professional (FMP), the Sustainability Facility Professional (SFP), and the Certified Facility Professional (CFP).
If you think professional development requires too much effort and expense, just be sure you have also determined the long-term career cost of 1 year’s experience times 10.