How to expand your skills set and improve your employment chances

One of the most common interview questions is ‘what skills do you bring to the organisation?’ Transferable skills are a vital component of modern working practice, and anyone who does not actively embrace every opportunity to expand their skills set is setting themselves up for a real cul-de-sac of a career. So although you have the degree, the diploma or the list of qualifications that are applicable for your position, how do you increase your chances of getting out of the cul-de-sac and onto the motorway of career advancement?

In house legal training

Most companies recognise that career development is both a business necessity and the key to a productive and dynamic workforce. The simple fact is that people are naturally inquisitive and enjoy learning new things. Any job will involve a certain amount of in-house training to begin with, but once that initial training period is over and you’ve ‘learned the ropes’, it shouldn’t stop there. Ask your employer about training opportunities. One of the most progressive methods is through mentoring, where a more experienced colleague coaches a junior member of staff. This practical, hands-on experience is something that cannot be learned from textbooks and, while there may not be a diploma at the end of it, shouldn’t be underestimated for its value and importance.

External training

As an employee, you have two routes for external training. You can either organise and pay for the training yourself or find out if your employer would be willing to fund your additional training. Don’t be afraid to ask – a good employer will recognise the benefits additional training will bring to their organisation and, if the training is relevant to your field and shows obvious benefits, they will often be willing to help you. The advantage of discussing your training options with your employer is that they will be able to advise you as to what kind of training would most benefit your career advancement within both the company and the industry. There is nothing more frustrating than spending time and your own money on a training course that will have no relevance to your chosen field and offers nothing except another irrelevant qualification on your CV.

Group training

By far the most cost-effective method of training within an organisation is to organise group training sessions. By bringing in an outside expert with specialist knowledge, the entire team can improve their skills set with relevant, up to date information and techniques learnt in an environment that is familiar and conducive to advancement. Group learning also encourages interaction from the entire group, and some surprising techniques can develop that are particularly relevant to your field. It also gives the team an opportunity to interact on a much more personal basis, building stronger bonds between team members and a more efficient working environment.

What not to do…

Don’t ‘coast’. Just because you have all the ‘required’ qualifications for your job does not necessarily mean that you are capable of doing it to your best ability. You may surprise yourself with what you can achieve if you put your mind to a little additional study. Give in to your inquisitive nature and expand your skills set whenever and wherever possible. A demonstrable desire to learn new skills is something that every employer looks for. A candidate who can show that they are willing to go that extra mile and actively looks for ways to expand their skills set is a desirable asset to any organisation and will increase your chances of advancing your career quickly.

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