A key way to make yourself more employable, or to move up the corporate ladder, is to ensure that you’re always developing your skillsets through continuous learning. Regardless of the topic or your mastery of the subject, putting out the effort to learn new skills will help show your initiative and ultimately help you achieve more in your career.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
– Henry Ford
When deciding how you can develop your knowledge and skill-base, here are a couple of considerations to keep in mind:
1. Develop Skills in an Area Valuable to your Employer
Focusing on an area of learning which is relevant to your field (or the field you intend to enter) will improve your value to employers and enhance job security.
Sure, learning how to juggle flaming torches while riding a unicycle may sound like a fun way to impress your friends, but if it doesn’t translate to providing value to your career, should you really invest all of the time necessary to become good at such a feat?
Personal Example: Project Management Education
As a Canadian government funding consultant, I assist small and mid-sized businesses to secure government grants and loans for their projects. In my role it’s critical that I understand how to conceptualize and communicate a project’s lifecycle to government review panels.
To enhance my writing skills, I have taken continuous learning courses focusing on Project Management. Not only was I able to learn more about a topic that I find to be personally interesting, but it continues to pay off every week that I work. I’m better able to conceptualize large-scale projects, and because of that, I’m able to deliver a better result for my company and clients.
Employer Tip: Many employee training programs can be funded through Canadian government grants. One of the most consistently popular training grants available to increase the skills of your employees is the Canada Job Grant. This program, including its provincial streams (such as the Canada-Ontario Job Grant) provides up to 66% of third-party training fees, such as course tuition, text books, and trainer costs. Businesses may be able to receive up to $10,000 per employee to continue their team’s skills development.
2. Develop Skills in an Area you are Passionate About
Although it’s important to continuously learn new skills and advance your career, actually enjoying the process of learning is equally important. It can often be difficult to successfully absorb information which doesn’t interest you, so finding that topic that ignites your passions is necessary if you want to adopt this learning mindset.
If possible, you should link your interests with your employer’s objectives to develop valuable skills that provide value to your employer and industry.
Personal Example: C++ Computer Coding Education
I recently started learning how to program with the C++ computer programming language. Although learning programming skills does not seem like a relevant area of development for a government funding consultant who writes funding program applications and business cases, there are substantial benefits that this knowledge could bring for myself and my employer.
Before I committed to learning C++, I took time to link the outcomes of this learning activity with the objectives of my employer.
Mentor Works helps software development firms gain access to government funding programs for hiring, training, and product development. Being able to accurately speak about the technical aspects of software development (while using correct industry terminology) adds value to the grant writing process for our software industry clients. Now I’m confident in my ability to provide this critical link for Canadian companies and consistently deliver greater value to them.
Take the Next Steps: Continuous Learning for Your Career
Remember that the first step in your professional development path is to understand how the new skills or training will lead to:
- Career or field advancement;
- Your business meeting its objectives; and
- Your clients receiving unparalleled value.
Even if the connection between what you want to learn and your employer’s goals is not obvious, try to determine how learning that skill would make you a more valuable employee. The Canadian job market is highly competitive; solidify your position by adding value to make yourself an indispensable member of the team.
Online Learning Resources: Lynda.com
LinkedIn’s video-learning site, Lynda.com, is an excellent resource for on-demand University-quality courses. Memberships cost $25 per-month for a month-to-month account, however members have access to a nearly unlimited set of topics.
Lynda.com is like an extremely useful version of Netflix. I have personally found it to be a game-changing resource for my professional development. If the price is too steep for you, there are alternative platforms such as Lynda.com that provide free tutorials, but Lynda.com has high-quality courses taught by qualified professors. Ultimately there is less time spent finding useful resources and more time spent learning new skills. The service also allows you to learn at your own pace, so there’s no worrying about timed exams or homework deadlines.