Why continuous learning is so important for your career
October 10, 2015 3:43 pm
In a rapidly evolving workplace, where technology and best practice can change at breakneck speed, it’s essential that your knowledge and skills are kept fresh and current. By demonstrating that you are across the latest industry trends, are aware of key insights and can apply these to your work ethic, you will set yourself apart from the competition.
If you can demonstrate how you’ve applied your learnings to deliver real and tangible results for a team, project, client or wider organisation then you will position yourself as a proactive employee with an intuitive understanding of your role, skills the industry you work in.
How do I get started with continuous learning?
Continuous learning should be engaging, fun and satisfying, both personally and professionally. Luckily there are lots of courses out there. The styles can include, but aren’t limited to:
Online courses; Seminars; Workshops; Networking events; Coaching; Mentoring; Bespoke training
Your employer may already offer a range of options so ask your line manager or HR department about what’s available. Some companies have fixed courses but others may have a budget for training requests so you can shape the training you want, as long as the company feels that it’ll lead to some benefit for them of course. If there’s nothing in-house, use social media to research and get recommendations for alternatives from the wider online community. If you have some colleagues with more advanced skills then ask them how they got training as well, they might even offer to share their knowledge.
Think about your learning style and learning opportunities
As we said earlier, there are lots of options that you can consider as part of your continuous learning. Think about what you’re looking to achieve and what may prove beneficial to you. Do you have the time and opportunity to get the most each option, for example? Could you take a year off, can you do night classes, does after-work appeal or can you use your lunch hour? Also, do you learn better in a formal or informal setting? Consider if you want a professional qualification, if so can it be provided by industry bodies, specialist trainers or other leaders in the field, such as individual influencers or experts? Alternatively, it might take the form of general learning within the workplace, for example through shadowing, mentoring or coaching.
Mentoring or coaching can benefit the mentor as much as the protégé. So as well as looking for a mentor, you could look to be a mentor for a junior team member. It’s a really useful exercise that makes you stop and think about established processes and operations, which in turn helps develop a deeper understanding of the implications and impact of your actions. In short, being the teacher could open your eyes to new opportunities and better efficiencies.
What benefits can continuous learning bring?
We’ve already touched on some of the professional benefits that come with continuous learning but there are plenty of other softer reasons for staying ahead of the game. Your confidence will be boosted when you sense your peers’ confidence in your knowledge and insight. Your external profile will benefit from the good internal press your expertise has generated, and word-of-mouth recommendations from colleagues or clients can lead to external interest, even job offers.
Continuous learning will help you to acquire knowledge and skills that are great for your CV as well as being a benefit to your employer and their clients. It’ll help you to exceed customer and stakeholder expectations by delivering a high quality service that goes above and beyond the industry standard, ensuring you remain competitive, relevant and employable.
Seeking, acquiring and sharing knowledge should be a continuous process throughout your life, to benefit your career and keep you ahead of the game. Start learning today, and reap the benefits forever.