Millions of employees have felt the urge to jump ship in the past year. While the reasons for this mass reshuffling of workers are multifaceted, many individuals who have resigned say they left in pursuit of better advancement opportunities.
Pew Research supports this premise. Sixty-three percent of people who quit their jobs in 2021 cited the inability to progress professionally as a factor in their decisions to leave.
Perhaps you’ve felt this temptation to take your talent elsewhere, too. That’s understandable, but it’s important to make the most of your job search by amping up your proficiency in those talent areas. If your goal is to find a company where you can move up faster, you’ll accelerate this process if you start upskilling before you go out on the job market. And upskilling is up to you: can never rely on a company for 100% of your upskilling and reskilling. The more education you seek on your own, the more doors you’ll open and the more leverage you’ll have when negotiating your compensation package — no matter where you work.
Spending time on self-development won’t just make you a stronger candidate for promotions or raises, either. It will help you feel more confident, which translates into having more fun at work. You may even become the office go-to person on certain subjects. It feels great to be more valuable. At the same time, if you decide to resign, you’ll have a nice, healthy, updated résumé to attract prospective recruiters.
You can start on a path to improved professional development immediately. Implement one or more of the following strategies this week.
1. Ask to do more.
Employees often fall into comfort zones at work. As a result, they take on their assignments, complete them adequately, and wait for more tasks. This leaves them unexposed to new systems, processes, and people.
To break out of this cycle, begin to request additional projects that will take you in a new direction. Even if your boss doesn’t have anything to give you right away, you’ll position yourself as an ambitious achiever. Additionally, you’ll be first in line when something different comes up.
What if your extra to-do is really far out of your wheelhouse? Celebrate! Treat it as a challenge. Do some homework about the problem, plan out your solution, talk to colleagues, and forge ahead. Exercising your imagination and creativity in untapped ways will help you enjoy every day a little more. As a side benefit, you’ll be proud when you deliver solid results.
2. Make the most of e-learning opportunities.
Too many workers assume that they have to pay for expensive, formal training to upskill. That’s not true, especially in the digital age. Today, everything from free workshops to affordable global conferences can be held online. Additionally, plenty of thought leaders share informative videos and podcasts online.
The world of learning is changing, including in industries that once focused solely on in-person education. Take real estate, for example. Jennifer Dixon Hoff, president of the real estate ecosystem at Colibri Group, has seen her sector shift to embrace virtual learning opportunities.
Explains Hoff, “Digital learning environments bring options far beyond the traditional reading and lecture format. With options such as polling features, videos, vignettes and more, courses have become interactive and engaging. It’s much less flat and static than it used to be, and it can adapt based on the audience.”
Therefore, don’t listen to the voice in your head that says self-training isn’t doable. You can improve your understanding of most topics from anywhere as long as you have a connected device and a thirst for knowledge. The real challenge will be choosing the courses that are the best match for your personal brand. Which aspects of your job make you the most curious? Which of your strengths do you want to take from good to great?
3. Develop relationships with experts.
Let’s say you want to learn more about social media marketing. Rather than going it alone, seek out someone who handles this type of marketing regularly. As long as the other person is willing, set up times to gather information on the topic that interests you.
Tapping into others’ skills is both efficient and effective, particularly if you go into the experience with questions. Scott Klinger, the chief people and marketing officer of EarthLink, suggests that you set up conversations that allow you to “use the Socratic method of learning, in which individuals have a cooperative argumentative dialogue where they ask and answer questions that encourage critical thinking and draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions.”
You probably won’t have to look too far to find professionals who can give you solid advice. Start with your family members, friends, and current or past co-workers. Then, expand your network or request introductions.
Just remember to pay back the favor later. In other words, when you gain expertise, be sure to pass it on to a pupil who is just as eager as you were.
Don’t wait for your company to give you the green light to learn. At the same time, don’t expect a new job at a new company to be enough to make you feel excited about work. Instead, reach for new knowledge — through a customized curriculum designed by YOU.