by Rachel Vilsack
You don’t stop using your skills – or expanding your skills – after you get the job. As anyone who has been employed knows, to be a productive and indispensable employee, you must be forward-thinking and continue to grow your skill set. As a professional, what do you do to expand your skills on the job?
- “One thing I do is sit in on other workshops. Even if I have attended that workshop before, I watch someone different do it to get ideas for activities or information. Sometimes, I am able to learn new things from my own co-workers, and I didn’t have to travel far or spend any money doing it.”
Is there something you could learn from your co-workers that could be implemented in your job?
- “I took an assessment of my strengths recently and was surprised at the results! I found I had strength in collecting and storing information (facts, data, and statistics) but I rarely shared it with people who could benefit from my knowledge. Now I purposely seek out opportunities to share my knowledge, and my colleagues know that I am a person who enjoys answering their questions.”
Assessing yourself and continuing your career development is essential. What could you learn about yourself that could apply right now to your job?
- “Recently, it’s just been agreeing to new work responsibilities and learning on the job. This has included some online software training and most often teaching myself new features or uses for software I already use, like Excel.”
- “I make myself available and actively propose to take on new tasks that belong to the set of skills I am interested in developing. It’s amazing how many related skills you can fail to develop if you do not proactively seek opportunities to develop them. I’d say that every time we do things the same way we had done them before we miss a chance to expand our skills. And that is scary, because the first instinct is to get things done as quickly as possible without taking any risk.”
- “I do things that challenge and stretch me. I don’t stay in my comfort zone, which would be mostly sitting behind desk writing or analyzing data. Sometimes I take on new projects purposefully; other times I’m a little more pushed into it. But even with those projects that don’t feel like a great fit with my skill set initially, I usually realize when they’re done that they’ve given me skills or perspectives that serve me well and “round me out” as an employee and a person.”
What do you do every day at work? Is there a project or activity at work you could participate in that would push you out of your comfort zone?
- “I joined Toastmasters to expand my communication skills, have taken leadership and management training, and seek out books that will help me better understand myself and others (such as Strengths Finder, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and Emotional Intelligence 2.0).”
Joining a professional association is a great way to stay current in your profession. Are there any other groups, organizations or training that could help you expand your skill set?
- “My two guiding philosophies about professional development are: 1) You can learn something new every day. 2) Be forward thinking in your skills development.”
We’re interested in learning from you, too. How have you continued to learn, grow and expand your skills at work?