Career Advancement & Continuous Learning

The world of work is forever changing, that we know. It seems that every day we learn of new innovations and technological advancements. These can often be exciting or advantageous for us, while others are intimidating or may even threaten our jobs. What this all means for our careers is that we’ve got to keep up just to stay relevant and remain efficient. In order to get ahead however, we must do more than just keep up. By taking advantage of or seeking out career development opportunities, we proactively plan our career advancement.

Benefits of continuous learning

Punctuality, strong work ethic and a good attitude used to go a long way to help get a promotion, but today’s employers expect more than that, they want to see innovation. If we aren’t ever the ‘go-to’ person at our work, or we grumble and groan about all the changes going on, we’ll eventually become irrelevant. If we want to succeed, we need to commit to lifelong learning and go beyond just ‘trying to stay afloat’. There are so many benefits to pursuing more training or skills development, some of which include:

  • Improved self-confidence and performance
  • Increased contribution to your workplace, with the possibility of higher earnings
  • More opportunities for advancement or new employment

Re-training options

Knowing that continuous learning is key to personal and career advancement, where does a busy person start when it comes to re-training? For many of us with families, jobs and mortgages, it’s not an easy option to go back to school full-time and earn a degree or diploma. The good news is that we can accomplish so much by taking small steps to further our education and skills development. Here are ways to acquire new skills while at work, and it all starts by talking to your management and creating possibilities:

  • Ask to take courses that appeal to your strengths, interests and goals (your employer may even foot the bill or give you time either at work or off-site to complete them)
  • Request mentoring opportunities or one-on-one coaching by peers or management
  • Put your name down for any projects, secondments and temporary work assignments that arise if you want to expand your knowledge base and learn other areas of the business
  • Ask to be trained on software, equipment or processes that interest you outside of your current job description

Asking for further training at work demonstrates to employers that you are not only eager and enthusiastic but also that you are dedicated. Remaining complacent in today’s workplace is a sure way to hold us back and put us behind the eight ball.

Training options outside of work

If you are looking to increase your skill sets but your workplace doesn’t have the budget, work culture, or commitment to allow for training or mentorship opportunities, that’s OK! There are other avenues and opportunities to keep up with industry trends or learn something new altogether to either bring to your existing workplace or use towards a pending career change. No matter what your budget or time-availability, there are solid choices here to suit everyone:

  • Listen to podcasts and sign up for chat groups and webinars
  • Read industry blogs and follow related professionals on social media
  • Online courses – from YouTube tutorials to Yale courses, there are online experts everywhere
  • Libraries – investigate the “How To” books, industry magazines, or online options in your field
  • Sign up for a community college or university course
  • Attend conferences and workshops

A note to employers

Some bosses are so busy with their day-to-day duties that they neglect to consider the value of staff training or professional development. By having highly-skilled employees, businesses gain significant organizational benefits, but, even more so, they instil in their staff a sense of value and pride, which usually results in higher retention and increased morale. A commitment to training also attracts high quality candidates and improves a company’s overall ‘brand’ and reputation. If it hasn’t been on top of your business plan before, it’s worth considering.

The road to success

Whether we take a few hours each week at home or work, or invest in night classes or even full-time studies, it’s always advantageous to learn new things. We humans are curious, intelligent beings, and in my opinion, we’re at our best when we are engaged, eager and thirsting for knowledge. In this blog series, we’ve explored several areas of our working life and the many ways we can positively impact our careers. If we’re stuck at a dead-end job with no fulfilment, we have no one to blame but ourselves. It’s up to each of us to find happiness and success; it’s not going to land on our doorstep. Taking a few risks, having a plan of action and rolling up those sleeves is a sure-fire way to getting ahead in both our personal and work lives. Our careers don’t define us, but they sure take up a lot of our time and energy, so here’s to making our work…work!

“The person with the biggest impact on your education is you.” – Michelle Obama