Tips on how to learn new skills


Want to learn new skills? There are plenty of ways to learn them, and new skills mean plenty of opportunities for employment. In fact, as technology advances, more people need computer science degrees and related certifications to get good jobs, says Laurence Bradford, owner of the technology-driven blog Learn To Code. "Techies are the new wave of professionals looking for entry-level positions in the information technology world," he says. "But even those with general technical skills need to learn specific skills so they'll have an edge over their colleagues."

People who want to advance in IT often need to learn new skills, but not all skills are appropriate for the job market, says Lillian Woo, executive director of the Pacific Business Information Services Association. Many employees enjoy the excitement of a new job, but others struggle because they lack a certain skill set, she notes. In addition, IT jobs are "increasingly computer-dependent and dependent on technologies that are rapidly advancing in both form and function," says Woo. In this environment, it's not uncommon for IT professionals to be stuck in a position where they're learning something they may not be proficient at yet. "If you're interested in learning a new skill set," she advises, "find a mentor or look on the Internet for a class in which you can work one-on-one with a professional mentor."

It's also important for workers to learn new skills. Social media is a great way to do that. Professionals can use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other sites to network with others and gain insight into the career options available to them. They can also follow up on blogs they've written, submit a resume to companies they're interested in visiting, and attend career fairs to share their skills with others. If a worker wants to continue learning even when their job isn't open, social media is a great way to do that.

Another great way for workers to learn new skills is by attending seminars or training sessions sponsored by their line of work. While many companies offer some kind of learning experience, few provide everything their employees need to get the most out of their learning experience. "Your employer likely isn't going to pay for classroom learning," explains Charmaine. "Even if they do sponsor some seminar or training program, the cost of training can be quite exorbitant." He suggests contacting your line of work and finding out if they sponsor any conferences or training seminars; if so, the cost can often be put onto your next paycheck.

There's a lot of time and money saved, too. "There's almost no substitute for hands-on, real-world application," says Charmaine. So instead of spending months training in a classroom, or in the office, employees can learn new skills right away on the job. The benefits are immediate - and usually accrue quickly.

But learning doesn't stop there. As you're developing your new skill, it's a good idea to keep a notebook and pen handy. You can write about what you learned, identify gaps in your knowledge, and jot down potential problems along the way. Many people find these types of notes an invaluable part of their career path. Writing something down, even if it's just a mental note, helps you remember what you learned.

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It's also important to learn how to adapt to changes as you learn new skills. Rapid learning makes it easy to make changes as needed. And even if your career path hasn't changed, you might find yourself in situations where you need to learn something new. Knowing how to adapt to changes along the way makes for an easy transition into the future.

Finally, always be careful about what you learn. This is one area where self-discipline really pays off. Don't assume that you know everything - but don't be too shy to ask for help when you don't understand something. Self-discipline here means not procrastinating when it comes to seeking professional advice or borrowing ideas from those you work with. Ultimately, this will make you a better learner, thus forth advancing your career and earning more money in the process.

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