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In a professional setting, it can be easy to fall into a routine, which can lead to stagnation in your career trajectory and growth. This is not just true for individuals but also for organizations. In fact, according to a recent survey, 56% of human resources managers consider training and development essential to business success.
While some organizations provide strong structures and opportunities for training and advancing professional knowledge and skills, it’s not always available or provided to employees. However, as a professional, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you keep your knowledge & skills up to date, particularly if you want to remain competitive within your organization or within the larger industry.
This article will provide a few tips on how you can keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date.
Engage Your Employer
The first method to ensure that your professional skills are kept up to date is to check what opportunities are available through your employer. There can be multiple pathways for receiving employment training or professional development from your employer, but it’s advantageous if you can do it through an employment relationship, as it can be challenging to fit ongoing education into a full-time employment schedule. It is also beneficial to the employer as they are improving the quality and expertise of their workforce.
Here are a few possibilities to investigate with the HR department of your organization:
- Request Formal Employment Training: In some cases, companies may have a policy or framework for providing ongoing training to their employees. See if this is available to you, and if not, request if it’s a possibility that they would consider implementing it for your position.
- Request Support for Ongoing Education: In other cases, some employers will help provide either financial support or contract flexibility to allow their employees to pursue a degree or further education that would aid them in their role or advance their capabilities within the organization.
- Request Professional Development Programs: Some employers may also be willing to provide employees with access to professional development programs such as leadership training or other industry-relevant programs. This may be provided to individuals or as part of larger team-wide training.
- Request Access to Online Resources: Another effective method for keeping your professional skills current is to seek out online resources that can be used on a daily or weekly basis. This may include online courses or online tools that are constantly updated to reflect the most recent trends and industry innovations.
All of these strategies are useful for keeping your professional skills and knowledge up to date in any context, so if you are unable to access them through your employer, then it’s advisable to seek out alternative means of gaining access.
Find a Mentor in Your Industry
Another strategy to help keep your skills and knowledge current is to seek out a professional mentor in your industry who is actively engaged in staying ahead of the most important industry trends. People often learn through exposure to others who are more advanced, so a mentor can be an effective way to absorb industry knowledge through active conversations. It can also be an effective way to hold yourself responsible for advancing your knowledge, as you know there is always someone who will be actively checking on you.
Build Habits to Stay Current
Most people fall behind on industry knowledge or their professional development when they fall victim to bad habits or a routine that doesn’t challenge the status quo in their daily lives. This can be prevented by building habits that help keep you on top of the most recent industry innovations. This can be as simple as reading industry news for a few minutes every morning or attending professional events on a regular basis. The important point is that you make small efforts on a regular basis that continue to challenge you and help you grow.
Set Ambitious Personal Targets
Another effective method for keeping your professional skills and knowledge sharp is to set ambitious personal targets and hold yourself accountable for achieving them. Through this, you will be forced to advance your skills and knowledge in order to achieve your goals while also helping you advance your professional career. This will also aid you in naturally identifying gaps in your skillset, as well as areas where your industry is evolving.