Learning Styles for Career Development
One of the best things you can do to achieve your career goals is to keep learning. Whether you’re looking for a new job or hoping to earn a promotion in your current role, growing your knowledge base and expanding your skills will help you get there.
To effectively learn, retain and apply new information at work, it might help to understand which of the three common learning styles you relate to most. Not only will this help increase your ability to gain new knowledge and skills, but it can also help you identify the right opportunities when searching for the best job for you.
For example, during interviews, you might ask employers how they help their employees learn and grow, and then use this information to determine whether their methods align with your preferred way of learning.
Here is some background information about the various learning styles and a list of jobs best suited to each method.
What do learning styles have to do with finding a job?
Everyone learns and retains new information differently. When you were in school, you may have noticed some information felt clear and straightforward while other courses seemed more difficult. The reason for these varied experiences is often due to learning styles, or the method in which you process new information.
The way you learn most effectively will impact many different aspects of your life, including your career. To grow and thrive in your chosen career path, you will continually be learning new information, expanding your skillset and acquiring more knowledge. When you understand which learning style you identify with, you can apply these methods at work and inform people who may be interested in your development, such as your manager and teammates.
What are the types of learning styles?
There are three key types of learning styles:
Visual learners (also called "spatial learners") process information best when it’s presented with images drawn on a whiteboard, charts, graphs, diagrams, maps or other graphics. Visual learners usually process pictures before they read printed text and are also able to visualize concepts quickly.
People who are visual learners prefer when instructions are printed rather than given verbally, and may often scribble or doodle when conceptualizing or attempting to make sense of a new topic. Many visual learners remember something better once they’ve written it down or drawn it out. They also tend to organize or visually compartmentalize information as they learn it to help them link concepts and ideas.
Auditory learners process information best when it’s said out loud, such as in a lecture setting or spoken presentation. These types of learners can easily recall what others say and prefer to talk through topics they find complex or difficult to understand.
People who are auditory learners prefer verbal directions and may use repetition or repeat things aloud to commit them to memory. They may ask multiple questions to understand the subject matter better and may need to hear something repeated more than once before they fully comprehend. They work well in group settings and appreciate team discussions. Auditory learners also often benefit from listening to recordings as a method of absorbing new concepts.
Kinesthetic learners (also called "tactile learners") process information through experience rather than by being shown or told. These types of learners prefer to do things that are more “hands-on.” They prefer to touch and feel items and can easily recall things they’ve done versus what they’ve heard or read.
People who are kinesthetic learners like to make and create things using their hands, and remember information best when they are physically involved. They may stand up, move around or act out information to remember it. Kinesthetic learners like to participate in the process by shadowing or assisting, and prefer to practice or rehearse concepts as a way to absorb new information.
Take time to consider how you prefer to take in new information. Think about the last time you learned something new. How did you work to ensure you retained the information? What patterns, explanations or drawings made the concepts understandable? The answer to these questions will help you discover which learning styles work best for you.
Once you know which learning style is most effective for you, it might be helpful to communicate your preferred style of learning with your manager. This way, you can work together to ensure you’re able to efficiently grow your skillset. Additionally, your manager can help you find ways to incorporate your learning style into your role.
Best jobs for visual learners
Because visual learners are adept at seeing how concepts and ideas interconnect, they tend to excel in roles where they have to use navigation skills, make decisions based on data or create things using art and design. They are especially great in positions where they need to put things together, either physically or conceptually.
Here are a few careers that may be best suited for visual learners:
Best jobs for auditory learners
People who are auditory learners tend to prefer jobs that require a great deal of group discussion and roles that demand active listening skills or making decisions based on conversations. Because they can recall information by hearing it and don’t need to see it, they can process information and act based on verbal instruction alone.
Here are a few careers that may be best suited for auditory learners:
Best jobs for kinesthetic learners
Kinesthetic learners tend to excel in roles that require constant action and movement. Because they prefer continual stimulation, they’re well-suited for career paths that demand a great deal of physical activity—especially jobs that allow them to work with their hands.
Here are a few careers that may be best suited for kinesthetic learners:
Learning styles should not be the only criteria you use to choose a career path. Associating with one learning style more than another does not restrict you to careers that align with your ideal learning style. You should be able to incorporate your learning style into any career path you select.
No matter which job you choose, understanding learning styles will help you identify the best ways to acquire new skills, grow as a professional, adapt to your new surroundings and help others learn and grow, too.