Steps for Skill Improvement
Updated June 24, 2022
If you want to present yourself with added value to an employer, developing an array of skills can help. While some skills come naturally, others require much more hard work and focus. By putting the time and effort into cultivating important skills, you can open yourself up to more career opportunities. In this article, we discuss the importance of skill improvement and share tips that can help you learn more skills.
Why is it important to improve your skills?
Skill improvement is an important part of becoming a marketable candidate. When you have the skill set an employer is looking for, you are more likely to get a job offer. Having many skills is also helpful when you already have a job. If your manager notices that you've been taking initiative to learn new tasks, they may think of you when it's time for them to give out promotions, raises and bonuses. Having many skills can also make your job easier to do, and you can become a helpful resource for your coworkers.
Important skills to develop
If you want to advance your career, consider improving these skills:
Adaptability: People who can work around sudden problems or changes tend to get ahead in their careers. That's because being adaptable shows that you are easy to work with and can handle anything. This admirable trait can help you stand out to employers. In order to become more adaptable, you need to first learn how to be an effective problem-solver while also managing your stress levels. Being open to new challenges takes practice, but it is an excellent skill to have.
Analytical reasoning: If you want a job that involves data or decision-making, then you need to improve your analytical reasoning skills. This means that you can look at information to find patterns and draw conclusions. Be the person who can make sense of data and decide what to do based on it.
Creativity: Being a creative thinker is important for many careers. Along with having soft creative skills, there are plenty of hard creative skills that are important too. Depending on what job you want to pursue, you may want to consider developing your graphic design, copywriting, copy editing, user-experience design, photography, or video editing skills.
Communication: Listening, writing and speaking are important communication skills to have. When you learn how to connect with other people, you can open yourself to all kinds of exciting career opportunities. Get comfortable writing emails, talking on the phone, chatting over video calls and meeting in person. When listening to others, make an effort to truly understand what they are saying, and provide meaningful feedback.
Emotional intelligence: This skill is the ability to understand the emotions of yourself and others. Along with being empathetic, those with strong emotional intelligence know how to respond appropriately in highly emotional situations. They are good at detecting how people are feeling and finding solutions to their problems. You can improve your emotional intelligence by asking people how they are doing and making an effort to be more perceptive.
Leadership: If you see yourself leading a team one day, then you need to learn how to be an effective leader. Knowing how to manage a team, delegate work, take on responsibilities, communicate to company leaders, make good judgments and find unique solutions can help you prove that you are fit to lead your team.
Persuasion: Being a persuasive person can help you go far in your career. If you are a salesperson, these skills can help you land a new client. If you are a marketer, these skills can help you sell a concept. If you are interviewing for a job, these skills can help you get a job offer. Being persuasive is all about learning to build connections and provide value to others.
Public speaking: Being able to speak confidently in front of a crowd is a very marketable skill to have. This is especially true since many people are wary of public speaking. If you could become someone who volunteers to lead the company meeting or talk in front of clients, you would be likely to experience many more opportunities. Being able to clearly express yourself and your ideas is a major part of being an effective public speaker.
Technology: As the workforce continues to use digital technologies, you need to become well-versed in using these devices. Having solid computer skills is helpful when applying to a variety of positions. While understanding the basics of a computer system is important, you may also want to consider learning coding and programming. Even learning some major software people in your field use can make you a more hirable candidate.
How to improve your skills
Follow these tips to help improve your skills:
1. Define your goals
Understanding your short-term and long-term goals can help you figure out which goals to focus on. Try to choose skills that can help you progress in your career. For instance, if you want your employer to promote you to a management position, you should work on improving your leadership skills. As you are setting goals, you can research other people's journeys to master a certain skill. Consider breaking your training up into sections, so your learning process is a bit more manageable. Once you learn the basics of a skill, you can move onto more challenging goals.
2. Find a career coach or mentor
Finding someone who can support you while you work on your skills can be a great idea. This individual can help you come up with a plan for reaching your goals. They can also hold you accountable as you progress. Choose a career coach or mentor who is both uplifting and determined to see you succeed. While you need encouragement, you also want someone who is going to push you to do better.
3. Seek help from others
If you notice someone at work has a skill that you would like to work on, see if they would be willing to meet with you. They can teach you the skill or help you find the resources you need to get started. Even if they can't provide hands-on training, it's still helpful to have someone you can go to for advice or answers to questions you might have.
4. Find ways to motivate yourself
The key to reaching your goal is finding ways to stay motivated. Think of ways you can keep yourself focused on improving your skills. For some people, creating a reward system is helpful. For others, staying motivated means finding ways to make the process more enjoyable. Getting to know the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation can help you create the ideal system for yourself.
5. Watch online tutorials
There are countless online videos that can teach you whatever skills you are interested in learning. General video platforms have plenty of free videos that you can watch to get started. If you are interested in learning from an expert, look for websites that offer tutorials from professionals or that cater to the field you're interested in.
6. Read blogs and manuals
If you are someone who can learn by reading, search the web for different blogs and manuals that cover the skill you are interested in learning. Reading a series of articles can help you learn a variety of tips and advice about your skill of choice. Try to read a variety of published works so that you can get multiple opinions about the best way to learn your skill. You may find that one person's advice works better than another's.
7. Attend conferences and seminars
See if your employer will send you to a conference or seminar to learn a particular skill. Along with getting advice from industry experts, these kinds of events are great for networking. Connecting with other professionals can help you build your network and advance your career. You may even find that someone you meet has excellent tips for developing your skills.
8. Schedule daily practice sessions
When you are ready to get serious about learning a skill, set aside some time for it every day. Even if this is as little as 20 minutes, repeating the same tasks can help you start to develop muscle or mental memory. Over a period of time, you may realize that your skill becomes second nature. Think of the process as learning to ride a bike or drive a car. With consistent practice, you barely have to think about doing these tasks.
9. Gradually improve difficulty
Start with simpler tasks that you can eventually build upon. For instance, when learning how to speak a language, you should start with learning basic conversation. As you get to know conjugations and sentence structure better, you can begin to use more advanced dialogue. Eventually, you can have fluent conversations with a native speaker. When you start with a solid foundation, you can progress much more later on.
10. Enroll in a course
Going back to school is an excellent way to develop certain skills. If you're looking to work full-time while attending school, see if your local community college has either online or evening courses. You can also enroll in shorter courses online if you aren't looking to earn a degree. Some companies offer free and paid courses you can check out.
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