#TechnicallyBetter: How to keep learning technical skills on the job
Staying ahead of the curve is integral to success in this ever-evolving industry. Here, we ask Senior Technical Recruiter Colin Smith to share his top tips for engaging in everyday learning and keeping knowledge up to date.
Whether you’ve landed your dream technology job and want to bring your A-game to work or are looking for ways to take the next step, a thirst for knowledge is one of the top traits you can possess. Senior Technical Recruiter Colin Smith sees that the people engaged in continuous learning experience the best career success. Read on for his top tips on keeping your skills fresh and thriving on the job.
1. Stay connected
“Networking can be a powerful tool for learning, and there are many avenues you can take to rub elbows with those who offer greater awareness,” Colin says. These include professional groups, virtual seminars, local meetups and events. It’s also essential to stay connected on social media – following experts, business leaders, top tech companies, and industry news sources are great for staying abreast of trends.
2. Challenge yourself
“Regularly encouraging yourself to move outside of your comfort zone and seek out or accept new challenges can lead you to learn new skills, earn a promotion and help you keep working towards your goals,” Colin says. “Risk-taking is also considered one of the top leadership traits.” For you, that could mean learning an unfamiliar technology, approaching someone you don’t know at a networking event, speaking up in or leading a meeting. Identify which areas you’d like to improve and challenge yourself to do something uncomfortable at least once a month. “Demonstrating your enthusiasm to take on higher-level responsibilities and challenging tasks can show your managers that you are dedicated and committed to your job. It can also give you a sense of pride and ownership, boost your performance and increase motivation,” Colin says of the benefits.
3. Read, listen and watch
“Staying informed about new technologies, current trends or cutting-edge research can help you perform well in your role, identify opportunities and know how best to manage any situation,” Colin says. So, make learning a habit by setting aside regular time to brush up on your knowledge, grow your skills and stay on top of industry news. There are so many ways you can build learning into your day, whether that’s listening to a podcast while commuting or doing chores, signing up for a lunchtime webinar, or subscribing to e-newsletters to read over a coffee. Doing so will help keep you engaged and develop your confidence and expertise. “The most successful people are usually those who make an effort to stay informed and can offer keen insights into their field and industry,” Colin says.
4. Ask for support
It’s in the best interest of your business to provide you with the time, tools and resources to learn, so don’t be afraid to be vocal about your goals. “Businesses value individuals who have current skills and knowledge, so securing their support will put you in a positive light, and they can also provide on-the-job training,” Colin says. Support from your company could look like funding for studies or mentorship at work. “Learning from a mentor is beneficial because it allows you to strengthen your skills and clarify any misconceptions about your job, giving you a fresh perspective.”
5. Block out time for learning
“One of the biggest barriers to learning is time, particularly when you’re focused on delivering top performance at work,” Colin explains. “It’s therefore imperative that you own your learning process and manage your professional growth and development.” It can be effective to block out recurring time on your calendar to reflect, set goals and work towards achieving them.
6. Research job market trends
“As the tech world evolves so quickly, you must keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the market,” Colin says. “That means regularly checking job postings within the industries or companies that interest you, noting the skills and requirements, and keeping an eye out for trends.” Subscribing to careers sites, following companies on LinkedIn, or speaking to a recruiter at The Agency about the market is an easy way to learn more about the demands.
Connect with Senior Technical Recruiter Colin Smith to discuss everything tech in Cayman.