6 Ways to Sharpen Your Job Skills

Sharpening your skills and continuing your education is a lifelong process. It's not just something that you do when you need to get a new job, open new doors, or catch up on your skills so that you aren't behind your colleagues at work. Instead, it's a process that lasts throughout your working years. You'll need to learn how to shape your skills so that they fit the needs of your industry, but you'll also need to sharpen skills that will give you the best chance of future professional success. How can you sharpen your skills while still giving your best to your job every day? These tactics will make it easier.

1. Take on Challenges

When you're choosing assignments at work, do you typically select the easiest ones, or are you the first to step up and try a new challenge? On-the-job development has a number of helpful attributes (http://www.scontrino-powell.com/2012/professional-development-for-your-employees-%E2%80%93-a-sound-investment/) that will help shape and sharpen your skills, including both learning new skills and increasing your leadership potential.

Your willingness to take on new roles and accomplish new things will certainly be noted. At the same time, you'll be furthering your development and developing new skills that you can use to help further your career. Don't hide your head in the sand and hope that you won't be chosen for the latest big project or challenging role. Instead, embrace it and see what you'll be able to accomplish both personally and professionally.

2. Understand Your Field's Requirements

For some professions, the best way to increase your skill level is by going back to school, gradually working your way up the ladder to a doctorate degree. In those professions, a degree means everything: it can mean the difference between pay grades and even the opportunity to take on new roles within your chosen profession. Other industries, however, don't work that way. Instead of degrees (http://www.capella.edu/blogs/cublog/it-certifications-or-it-degrees-for-career-growth/), those fields require certifications in order to prove the competency of employees within them. If you want to succeed in those fields, sitting in a classroom, listening to material unrelated to any of the certifications you need, is a waste of time.

As you look for ways to improve your skills, make sure you understand the specific requirements of your unique industry. You don't want to put your time in the wrong things. All learning may be valuable, but you don't just want to increase your learning. You also want to improve your ability to get and hold the job of your dreams.

3. Keep Reading

One of the best ways to increase your skills and knowledge within your field is to dive into the written word. Chances are, there is a wealth of knowledge out there about your industry. Staying on top of that knowledge will help sharpen your professional skills and put you in the ideal position to make more of any opportunities that come your way. If a new technique is rising in your industry, give it a try. If new equipment or programs are created that will make your job easier, learn how to make them work for you. The more time you spend reading, the more you'll know about your industry--and the sharper your professional skills will be. 

4. Branch Outside Your Industry

It's natural to want or need to increase your learning within your industry. Learning outside your industry, however, isn't without value--especially if you're able to find something similar or related to your current position. By increasing your knowledge outside your specific role, you're able to increase your overall knowledge and capability. Sometimes, the best ideas (https://hbr.org/2014/11/sometimes-the-best-ideas-come-from-outside-your-industry) don't come from your current training and knowledge, but instead from going beyond them. Not only that, but you might also gain a unique perspective on the issues and problems currently facing your industry. You never know when that knowledge will come in handy!

5. Take Advantage of Work-Sponsored Opportunities

Many employers offer continuing education opportunities for their employees. If your employer will pay for you take classes at a local college, for you to undertake a specific certification training, or for you to attend a certain number of seminars or conferences every year, it's a waste to let it sit there on the table and fail to take advantage of it! Those opportunities were created to allow you to further your education and increase your job skills. Make sure you know your employer's policy and how to use those opportunities as effectively as possible.

6. Ask for Feedback

Find someone in your industry who understands your position and is in the position to mentor you as you grow. Ask that individual to look over your current projects and give you feedback about how you're currently performing. That person should be able to give clear advice that will enable you to grow professionally as well as helping you determine what direction you should go next as you further your job skills and increase your knowledge. From giving you little tips on how to do your job more effectively to helping you network, your mentor has the outside perspective that you lack.

Your job skills aren't just based on the tasks that you need to perform every day. Don't be complacent about where you are! Instead, look for ways to improve your job skills, increase your learning, and get better in your industry. It's not just about seeking a new job. It's also about furthering your personal development and capability. 

 

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