5 Ways to Diversify Your Skills While Staying in the Same Job
Always be preparing for your next job. This is excellent career advice as you can always expect the unexpected to happen. You never know when you may find yourself back on the job market or when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will arise.
But like most advice, it’s easier said than followed. Preparing for tomorrow’s job today means diversifying your skills, but when your current job revolves around the same old responsibilities, we often find ourselves leaning on what we already know.
It can be tricky to find the time to learn new skills while juggling life’s demands, but it is possible. Here are five ways to do it.
1. Sign up for a course
Adult education is more than hobby classes where you learn the tabs to “Wonderwall” (though, that’s an option). Today, online and continuing education courses offer a variety of subjects for the career-minded, such as grant writing, web design, and employee management.
Many classes also include a project component, which can provide an opportunity for some hands-on experience. For example, you can team up with a nonprofit and use your grant writing class project as an opportunity to create an actual grant proposal. Such pairings of class work with real-life applications look great on resumes.
2. Shadow a coworker
Shadowing provides you the opportunity to learn from your coworker’s skills and can gain you a mentor for later pursuits. It’s advantageous to your employer, too, as it can deepen your knowledge of the company’s many facets.
If possible, don’t just shadow your coworker—help them complete part a specific project. As with course work, this grants you hands-on experience with skills employers value.
3. Request additional responsibilities
Go beyond your job description, and new skills will follow. You just have to ask. It can be a tricky ask, though. Some supervisors may not be willing to shake up how your position fits within the larger corporate structure, or over-diversifying the position may make future hires difficult to place.
To make the proposition more appealing, do your homework. Recognize a need within the company, figure out how you can best meet that need, and present your findings. It can be a lot of work, but this method ensures your new skills will transfer directly to your resume.
Offering your services isn’t likely to net you hard skills, but don’t let that deter you. Volunteering can reinforce many soft skills like communication, time management, and problem solving.
It will strengthen your relationship with your community, as well. You may learn about your local ecology, social arrangements, and community hardships. As a bonus, volunteering provides a great way to network and develop new partnerships.
An oldie but a goodie, reading remains one of the best ways to learn new information and diversify your skills. Books can extend your knowledge on a variety of subjects to improve your communications, productivity, and interpersonal skills.
They can help you onboard hard skills, too. Programming manuals can teach you computer languages, and financial books can improve your monetary proficiency.
Don’t let the titles turn your sour, either. Book series like the ill-named For Dummies are anything but. They merely present the information in easy-to-read language that’s broken up for effortless mental digestion.
Diversifying your skills while at the same job doesn’t just prepare you for your next job—it helps stave off career malaise as well. These five methods require you to make the first move. Whether that’s registering for a course, talking with your supervisor, or visiting the library, it’s on you to make the preparations. But the benefits, for both your career and personal growth, will be well worth it.