Build Your Skills… Always

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How many times have you seen the words “continuous learning” or “continuous learner” on a job ad?  Continuous learning is about developing your skills and acquiring new knowledge on a consistent basis.  This may mean that you have to spend money, but it would certainly mean that you need to spend time. 

Why should we spend our time learning more skills or acquiring more knowledge if we already have a job?  Having a range of skills helps you obtain opportunities that may not be available right now.  The job market is constantly changing and it is good to be prepared for the next big thing.

Create a Vision, Make a Plan, List Goals

You need to set long-term goals (think 5-10 years) and then work backwards.  If I want to become an instructor or a plumber, what would I have to do to get there? The best way to start is to look through job ads – which technical or specific skills, or certifications do employers want at this time?  Looking through job ads allow you to build a concrete list of skills and qualifications employers look for in an ideal candidate.

Network with individuals who have the job you want by joining professional associations or LinkedIn. Experts want to talk about their experience, knowledge, and training, so use this as an opportunity to pave your own path. Try to ask more than one expert so you can have a more objective perspective and approach to learning.  This will give you a more intentional path towards your continuous learning journey.

Hold Yourself Accountable, Create Your Own Opportunities

Now that you have a clear path, it is essential to keep your goals visible and hold yourself accountable.  Create SMART goals (Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely) with definite deadlines.  Being an active learner means being responsible for every step you take, and remembering the vision you had when you were setting goals.

When you take a course or workshop, or read a book, you should try to apply the skills you learned (or a version of it) at work or in your personal life.  This allows you to learn and practice at the same time, and change your attitude from “this was useless” to “I can use this.” Keep in mind that there will be things you cannot practice due to safety, but soft skills and technical skills are great to exercise anywhere (ex. leadership and coaching).  You should also never consider learning as something that can only be done at work or in a classroom. There are endless learning opportunities. If you take 10-15 minutes in the evening to learn something by watching a video or reading a short article, this will benefit you a lot.

Start Now!

Whatever your plan is, take the time to start the process today.  Having a road map for success will give you the directions you need.

Create a vision for yourself. 

  • What do you want to be doing 5-10 years from now?

Make a Plan! 

  • Look through job ads on sites like Indeed.
  • Join professional associations or LinkedIn.
  • Talk to people who have the job you want to have and ask them questions.

Hold Yourself Accountable

  • Make SMART goals with definite deadlines.

Create Your Own Opportunities

  • Apply newly learned skills at work or in your personal life.
  • Remember that learning can happen outside of work.
  • Take 10-15 minutes in the evening to learn something new.

Author: Janine Bucklaschuk, Facilitator at OFE

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