A new survey from Robert Half Finance & Accounting suggests that a majority of workers consider learning new skills “critical” when jumping between careers; even for those who aren’t considering a career move, keeping skills current remained a top concern.
Robert Half surveyed finance and accounting professionals, but tech pros likewise want to keep their skills up-to-date. For those who take the DIY approach to such things, a few basic steps will ensure you’re in a good position to both learn new skills and augment existing ones:
Know What You Want to Learn
It sounds simplistic, but many people only have a vague idea of the new skills they want to acquire. Look around at your industry, or at one you want to join, and evaluate the specific skill sets that are most valuable—and which you can afford not to learn.
You can take classes to learn new skills, or polish existing ones; you can even skip the human-interaction part and participate in online tutorials. But finding a mentor or expert in your desired skill is a key step to mastering it; such a person can prove a valuable resource whenever you get stuck on a technical conundrum, or just need some words of encouragement.
Put Yourself Out There
Start an account on GitHub and other repositories. Head over to Hacker News and participate in some discussions. Learning a new skill isn’t just a matter of locking yourself away and studying; you need to participate in the ecosystem. That’s the only way you can learn about what’s current.
Ask Your Company
Companies know that learning new skills is important to employees. Ask your boss or CIO if they’d be willing to spend the money to send you to classes or seminars. They’ll know that sending you will help their chances of retaining you for the long haul, so they’ll likely agree to underwrite your new skill set.