6 Important Job Skills at Work (And How to Learn Them)

Updated March 10, 2023

Window view of a person working from home typing on their laptop from their home office.

The most ambitious and successful people have a growth mindset and consistently look for opportunities to develop their job skills. Many people learn various skills through education and taking certification classes, but there are several skills that you can earn on the job. Depending on your learning style, working on skills at work can help you quickly advance your career.

In this article, we discuss the top six transferable job skills you can learn on the job and how to develop them effectively.

Related: What Is On-the-Job Training?

What does it mean to learn skills on the job?

Learning skills on the job refers to learning an ability or developing knowledge by performing tasks at work. Most people will learn some skills on the job during the onboarding process, while others will need to be extensively trained on job-specific technical skills. You can learn skills on the job by practicing a task, shadowing others or taking advantage of professional development opportunities. While you may have a specific skill goal you want to learn at work, many people develop their skills on the job simply by completing their work and looking for ways to grow their position.

6 important job skills

Learning job skills is a large part of adjusting to a new work environment in many different industries. While some skills are specific to a particular position or field, many sectors offer on-the-job training for the same skill sets. Here are some of the skills that are commonly developed on the job:

  • Industry or product knowledge

  • Professionalism

  • Leadership

  • Customer service

  • Time management

  • Strategic thinking

How to learn job skills at work

Learning skills on the job shows initiative and commitment to your work which could increase career opportunities. Although most jobs offer opportunities to learn new skills, deciding how to get started may be challenging. The specific actions you need to take will vary depending on your workplace, but a few techniques apply to many different environments. Use these methods to start learning new skills on the job:

1. Look for opportunities

One of the most important steps to gaining job skills is to seek growth opportunities. When looking for a new job, consider selecting a workplace that emphasizes training within the workplace. Many organizations offer professional development courses or other free training to people interested in growing their skills. You can find opportunities to learn skills on the job by asking your manager or connecting with your employer's human resources department.

2. Assess your skills

Before you can focus on learning a new skill, it is helpful to understand your experience level in various skills. Indeed assessments are one great option for measuring your knowledge and abilities in specific areas. If you are motivated to pursue a particular career path requiring technical skills, you can take assessments specific to your industry. Understanding your strengths and areas for improvement will help you know which skills to focus on developing in the workplace.

3. Practice

Once you select a skill to focus on, try practicing it daily. The more you practice a skill in your daily activities at work, the faster you develop expertise. If possible, begin practicing your skills in low-stakes situations that will not influence the overall quality of your work.

4. Learn from others

When learning a skill on the job, one of the best ways to increase your competency is to learn from someone who is already highly skilled in that area. If you have one coworker who is particularly good at one skill, you might ask to shadow them or have a meeting to discuss their strategy for success. You can also ask them to observe how you perform a skill or task and ask for their advice on how to improve. As you develop your work skills, try to learn from many different coworkers to find a technique that works best for you.

Related: How to Find a Mentor

5. Ask for feedback

In addition to working with a colleague, you can learn on-the-job skills by asking for regular feedback from your manager and anyone you regularly collaborate with. Your teammates can provide valuable advice on how they learned skills at work and may be able to direct you to useful resources and training opportunities. When asking for feedback, be polite and receptive to what others tell you to focus on improving.

Read More: Growing Your Career: Learning From Negative Feedback

6. Track your progress

As you develop your skills, track your progress by regularly taking assessments and comparing your current knowledge and abilities to your initial skill level. This can help you stay motivated and adjust your learning strategy if needed.

Steps to learning skills on the job

Learning skills at work can help you advance your career and make your resume more attractive to future employers. As you go through the process of learning skills on the job, keep these steps in mind to get the most out of your experience:

  • Define your goal. Consider why you want to develop skills on the job and stay focused on your goal. You can learn skills more efficiently by focusing on one ability at a time.

  • Find a mentor. You can learn skills more quickly by having someone you can regularly meet with to discuss your progress and provide guidance. This also helps ensure that you perform tasks properly using best industry practices.

  • Develop a strategy. Create a plan for learning each skill depending on the resources available. Setting goals and expectations can help you measure your progress.

  • Challenge yourself. Once you have started successfully using your new skills on the job, continue to grow your skills by looking for new challenges. This shows ambition and can often lead you to become a highly valuable person in the workplace.

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