Written by manon - 4 Minutes reading time

Developing new career skills while working at your current job

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What can you do if you don’t have in-demand skills due to your current job responsibilities? – Dennis

Kudos to Dennis for recognizing that what you do in your everyday work isn’t necessarily what will get you to the next job. Ideally you proactively manage your career and keep your skills updated and aligned with your target job. Figuring out what the in-demand skills are for your target job is a key first step. You need to know what skills to develop before figuring out the how.

Once you have a sense for what skills are a match to the job you want, then you can plan how to develop these. Learning on the job is only one way to develop new skills. You don’t need to spend a lot of your own money, either. You do need to invest time, be willing to stretch yourself and experiment to find developmental opportunities.

1 - Tap company resources

If you work in a large company, check if they offer training in-house. A large media client of mine offered, both industry-specific workshops, as well as general skills training in managing people, communication skills, public speaking and more. A smaller tech client didn’t have training onsite but gave each employee a personal budget earmarked for learning and development courses and supplies. Some companies offer shadowing opportunities so you can sit with a different department for a day. Some companies organize mentorships which pair employees from different areas.

2 - Help your manager help you

Your manager may be able to point out company offerings you don’t know about, or they might offer to design a learning plan for you. If the skills you’re interested in developing are being used somewhere within your group but just not your job, your manager may be able to rotate your responsibilities with the other person doing what you’d like to do. Or, there could be cross-functional projects that you can be assigned to, which would stretch you in a new way, help you meet people you don’t normally work with and give you a window into other parts of the company.

Just keep in mind that some managers are better than others about coaching and developing their staff. If you suspect your manager won’t be supportive – e.g., they interpret your request as you losing focus or being less committed to your current job – then skip this step!

3 — Volunteer, including at your company

Volunteering is a hands-on way to flex new skills and give you tangible examples to share at job interviews and networking meetings. If you already know the basics of a skill, such as accounting, but don’t have an accounting degree or use accounting formally in your role, volunteering could be the proof you have that skill. You could help with bookkeeping for a non-profit you care about. Volunteer for treasurer duties with your kid’s school, your place of worship or your neighborhood association. Board work is a great resume enhancer, and you could volunteer for the finance committee specifically. You could even volunteer at your company – e.g., to handle the budgeting duties for the annual offsite, to be the treasurer for an affinity group.

4 — Reconnect with your public library

If you need to learn a skill and can’t use it right away, don’t assume that a paid course is the only way forward. Your public library, especially if it is a main branch or specialized in business or research, has books, periodicals and online resources at no cost. Some libraries offer professional development workshops on topics such as starting a business. Reading biographies is a great way to explore potential career paths. Once you see how often success is not linear and results from varied experience, you’ll also get reassurance that you will find your own way. Your next employer is looking for experience, but not necessarily the paid, on-the-job kind Sure, it would be great if your current job keeps pace with your career goals and gives you all the skill development you need to get ahead. But it probably won’t, which is one reason why you’re looking to move on in the first place. Still, there are ways to advance your career outside your current job, including learning new skills. Your next employer will want confirmation that you indeed have the requisite skills, but on-the-job performance is only one form of proof. Self-study matters if you can talk about the subject in enough depth to demonstrate how much you know. Volunteer work matters if it is hands-on and leads to tangible results. Extra work you take on at your company, even if it’s not your main job, is yet more proof of your skills and also shows how willing you are to go above and beyond. Are you looking for an organisation where there is room to grow your skills further? Have a look at our vacancies to see if there are positions which suit you. Read more news
Published on Forbes.com
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