A lot of misinformation floats around the internet and through workplaces about what professional development entails and what employees should expect from their employers in terms of support, benefits, and total compensation. Below, we dispel five common myths.

Myth #1

Broadening your skills will be easy. Professional development takes time and energy. Finding a course that you can phone in for letters behind your name won’t help you stay relevant in the long run. Growing in your career in a meaningful way means continuously looking for opportunities to sharpen your skills, being excited about learning, and dedicating yourself to expanding your horizons. This means putting yourself out there when you may feel timid about making new connections, watching a webinar “after hours” when you may be tired and want to relax, asking for help or mentorship when it may feel uncomfortable, or fitting a training class into an already busy schedule.

Myth #2

Only your salary and bonus matters; you shouldn’t consider your total compensation package. This is a big one. Many people only consider their salary and bonus or commission when thinking of compensation, while overlooking very important parts of their total package that can have a major impact on the bottom line – like benefits, paid time off, and, importantly, tuition and professional development reimbursement. Finding an employer that supports your ongoing professional development by building room in the budget relieves your financial burden and demonstrates their long-term commitment to you. Also consider a company that gives you time during your normal workweek for these endeavors, which takes a huge burden off you to squeeze it into spare and leisure time.

Myth #3

Your employer doesn’t need to invest in you long-term. Job loyalty is a two-way street. You give thousands of hours each year to your employer. Yes, your employer compensates you for this time, but if they aren’t giving you opportunities to grow beyond where you are today, you are both missing out. You can’t get better at your job and pursue higher positions if you don’t keep up with new tools, resources, ideas. You can’t grow your customer base without networking. You can’t give your employer the best version of your professional self if you’re disinterested and unmotivated. Lack of productivity and turnover is a huge financial burden for employers, so it behooves them to offer incentives to retain talent as long as they can.

Myth #4

Your advanced degree is enough. Your degree gets you in the door. It shows your employer that you have the baseline skills for the job and the ability to follow through. The skills you learn through formal education will be particularly helpful as you move up the first couple rungs of your career ladder. But then your experience and the freshness of your skills and knowledge begins to take a front seat. The world changes so fast these days; the ideas you learned in college and graduate school are simply not going to stay relevant throughout your career. New ideas will take shape and new tools and resources will be developed that you’ll need to know in order to succeed at your job, meet client demands, and stay competitive with your peers who pursuing professional development.

The bottom line, you can’t stay stagnant and do what you’re always done and still succeed in today’s dynamic and competitive workforce. But, companies increasingly understand that they have to offer a competitive total compensation package and development opportunities in order to retain good employees. Don’t buy into the myth that you shouldn’t demand this from your current or future employer.