Increasing a skill set is critical for both short and long-term professional success.
With that said, how should someone beginning their career think about formal ongoing training to increase their skill set?
To answer this question, we asked business leaders and professionals early in their careers for their insights on ongoing training.
Here are different tips on how to increase skill sets through ongoing training.
Set SMART Goals
Experience is the best form of ongoing training to increase a skill set. Especially early in a career, when everything is fresh and you can learn more from mistakes and successes. To maximize training through professional experience, it is important to set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals. Through setting quarterly or monthly SMART goals, you can design your own training program to broaden a skill set through relevant experiences.
Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
It’s An Essential Part of Their Career Plan
No matter the level of your career, learning never truly ends. There are always new skills, tools, and strategies to be learned that can help individuals grow. That said, someone beginning their career should think about formal ongoing training as an essential part of their career plan and look for an organization or community that encourages that learning and growth. As a CEO, I encourage everyone at our company to take at least a half-hour a week to dedicate to learning, be that company-wide training initiatives or development in areas of interest. It is also important to recognize that not all learning is “formal” and approaching your daily work with the desire to learn will help you go far and stay adaptable in an ever-changing world.
Brian Carlson, eThink Education
Figure Out Team Weaknesses
Every business and every team has a weakness. Take a moment to look around and figure out what that might be. I had one employee who decided that we needed to improve some of our graphics and that the team lacked sufficient Photoshop skills. On his own, this employee learned the program and became our go-to person. If you can fix a weakness in the organization, it shows both insight and initiative and makes you stand out in a crowd!
Rick DeBruhl, Communication Consultant
Don’t Spread Yourself Thin
There is a huge importance of understanding your strengths and using them to your advantage. While at school, I think it\’s normal for us to learn that if you get an A+ in writing and a C- in math, you should concentrate your time and energy on getting better at math. I find it to be the opposite in the working world; by placing your attention on certain things that you are most successful at, you can become an expert over time in that field using your strengths. Using your strengths, you would be able to cover vulnerabilities better than you might otherwise have done by outsourcing your weaknesses. Spreading yourself thin can stop you from achieving your full potential in the areas that you perform the best. However, using your strengths to achieve your full potential is an attainable goal.
Dr. Robert Applebaum, Principal Owner
Have a 5 Year Plan
Just think about where you want to be in at least five years. This may seem like a stereotypical interview question, but it can deliver a lot of insights if you answer it seriously. It’s for this reason that when I finished my undergraduate degree in marketing I went straight into an MBA program with a focus on supply chain and logistics management. That formal training, along with practical experience I gained during my studies, was what allowed me to apply for and get hired for a director of marketing position despite having limited professional experience. My MBA was over 5 years ago, to put this into perspective.
Jake Rheude, Red Stag Fulfillment
Don’t Settle for the Same Skills and Levels
We learn throughout our whole life, or at least we should. Ongoing training, upskilling, and reskilling are what is going to keep you relevant in your field. This isn’t only true for highly technical roles. If you want to remain a valuable, highly sought after candidate, you have to remain updated with novelties in your field. More importantly, you need to be able to grow and develop. Don’t be content to move forward with the same skills, on the same level. Your tastes, wants and needs will change along with a changing world. Discover new interests, cultivate new talents, and develop new skills. You may not use all of them, but they will all contribute to making you a complex, well-rounded individual and professional.
Hosea Chang, Hayden Girls
Stress the Importance to Your Employer
At the beginning of your career, think about where you want to go in your industry but also in your company. Think intentionally about what specific training you need to engage in in order to grow in your skillset as well as in your position. Be sure you let your employer know that you are engaging in ongoing training to always be developing in your position and in your field. Set a dream job and ask yourself “What do I need to learn in order to even be considered for that position?” Your answer should guide the decisions you make about the training you choose to participate in.
Eric Mochnacz, Red Clover
Make Sure It Aligns With Long Term Career Objectives
Don’t get good at something you don’t like doing! While adding formal training and certifications can make you more valuable (and beef up your resume), you should be careful about developing proficiency in an area you don’t love. If an employer is investing in training, they’re going to expect you to use it, so make sure any training you pursue furthers your long-term career objectives.
Elliot Brown, OnPay
Consider Rare Skills in the Job Market
When seeking formal training, there are a few things you can ask yourself. What skills can I develop that can be practically applied at work? Knowing how to use specific software and tools can help you get a great job that pays well. It’s also important to consider which skills in the job market are considered rare. This makes your skillset more valuable and you’ll be in a better position to find a job and perks that suit you.
Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
Have a Beginner Mindset
Never forget to approach new training with the mindset of a beginner. Having the perspective of a novice will motivate you to ask questions and try to deeply understand what is being taught. Also, ongoing training is the norm. Markets are being constantly disrupted, if you don’t stay on top of your market trends, you become less of an asset in the workplace.
Steven Brown, DP Electric Inc
There are new technologies and tools that pop up that a professional needs to be aware of, such as the shift to online learning. If you think about an industry like information security, you’ll realize that things are always evolving at a fast pace. Cybersecurity attacks evolve and become more complex. New technologies and tools pop up that a professional needs to be aware of. To continue to carry an up-to-date skill set, people just starting out need to understand that continuous online training will always be ongoing. Continue to invest in yourself and your skills to keep pace with evolving industries.
Nick Santora, Curricula
Visualize Your Future
Oftentimes, too many professionals forget about education and further development after entering the job market, but the truth is that you are never done learning! Do your research and spend time visualizing your future and thinking about where you want to end up. Once you have an idea of what job you want, how much you want to make, and what skills you need to achieve that, you can begin identifying courses, certifications, and other programs you need to take to get there.
Jeanne Kolpek, Cadence Education