College has provided you with all the training you need.
If you believe this, you may be on a path to obsolescence. Employees slid by with this “learn-then-work” mindset 20 years ago, but today’s ever-evolving, technology-enhanced landscape requires “work-and-learn” thinking. According to The HR Digest, organizational needs are shifting like Nascar drivers, requiring employees to upskill, reskill, or get left behind. While companies are handing easily-automated jobs to robots, emerging roles create new opportunities for people who are agile, curious, and resourceful.
The least painful way to maintain your skills is not to fall behind in the first place.
By engaging in knowledge-sharing, following thought leaders, and continually identifying areas for additional contribution, you can establish an effortless process for lifelong learning. This practice will not only help you advance in your current role but will set you up for successful future career transitions (because, let’s face it, wherever you are now is probably not the last place you’ll work).
First, write down three areas where you need to remain relevant.
A sales professional might need expertise in company and competitor products, emerging trends, and novel sales automation technologies. Managers may look at influencing skills, change management, and employee empowerment. Whatever your role, surely you can identify areas where you’d benefit from further training or knowledge. Fill in the blanks below to help identify growth areas:
- “If I was an expert in __________, _________, and _________, I would be able to create more value for my company, colleagues, and customers.”
- If you’re thinking about switching careers or industries, change this to, “My new job will require me to have expertise in __________, _________, and _________.”
Next, find resources to continually feed your mind.
Brainstorm as many potential learning resources as you can think of to further your knowledge in the three areas you identified above. You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money to stay ahead; some of the most valuable learning opportunities are free (like blogs and Ted Talks). Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Formal degrees / certifications
- Web-based courses (Coursera, EdX, Linda, Udemy, etc.)
- Blogs / vlogs by thought leaders
- Google Alerts for related keywords
- Relevant social media groups
- Monthly coffee breaks with innovative colleagues
- Masterclasses / Webinars
- Industry associations or newsletters
- Skills apps
Finally, pencil learning into your schedule and make it a habit.
When you finish brainstorming, pick a few resources for your three growth topics and create a learning plan. Not just in your head. Write it down, block it out on your calendar, and place reminders around your office to support you in making learning a part of your daily process.
- Use a combination of text, audio, and video resources to maximize your schedule. Listen to a podcast while you walk the dog. Watch a video when you eat lunch. Read an article on your phone while you… Well, you know. (It’s way better than reading the back of the shampoo bottle!)
We’re all busy. That’s not an excuse.
Go-getters recognize that education is a priority and it doesn’t end when they’re hired. They acquire knowledge through learning pathways that make sense for them. They notice when they wish they knew more about something. Then, they stop wishing and take action.
Now, it’s your turn. Write down what you need to learn, find some resources, and enjoy the many fruits of ongoing knowledge acquisition.