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6 minute read

Get Your Career on Track: 5 Practical Ways to Pick Up New Skills

Whether you’re making plans to switch careers or to remain relevant in the workforce, growing your skills is key to getting your career on the right track.

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The job market is getting increasingly competitive, and if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be constantly ready for changes. To future-proof our careers and remain resilient when the inevitable happens, it is crucial that we keep learning, growing, and developing new skills.

Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng said at the Forward Singapore Empower Pillar media event that Singaporeans must be able to “identify the opportunities in the economy so that they can set longer-term career goals, and take early, pre-emptive and proactive steps towards achieving them”.

“We want to support Singaporeans in having a personalised career plan — one that you regularly update to keep abreast of industry developments and your own evolving needs, as well as your own interests.”

To be kept up to date with the changes in the job market, Dr Tan encourages Singapore to “persist in upskilling and reskilling, to take on career challenges that stretch and develop you, and to come out stronger in the end”.

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So, what are some practical steps to picking up new career skills while working? Here are five that we’ve identified.

1. Find a mentor

Research has shown that mentoring is associated with better career outcomes, higher job satisfaction and larger incomes. After all, it’s like having your own role model or career guide to help you get to where you want to be. 

Having a good mentor is a great opportunity to attain more career skills and knowledge from someone with direct experience. This exposes you to experiences and points of view related to the industry or role and provides guidance and feedback relevant to the challenges you may face.

Check in with your HR manager on whether the company has a mentorship programme to tap on. Interact with more senior colleagues, work alongside them or shadow them to get relevant tips and on-the-job training.

If your workplace doesn’t offer a mentorship programme, tap on networking events or online platforms like LinkedIn to find relevant industry experts. These let you connect with a potential mentor from whom you can aspire to learn.

2. Make friends in other departments, offices, teams, industries

Growing your network doesn’t only refer to the traditional methods of attending networking events or joining professional groups to meet completely new people. It can also start internally to know more about your company’s different jobs and sectors.

Getting to know people in other teams within your organisation opens your understanding of what other teams’ roles are, what their jobs entail, and what skills are needed for that role. Ask about the skills and knowledge they use, and if you’re interested in getting hands-on experience, offer your help to grow your skill set and expertise.

Looking for career guidance? If you are exploring career changes and need professional advice, register for a complimentary session with WSG’s Career Coaching today.

3. Go for new challenges

Are there special assignments that are out of your job scope offered within the company? Take the chance to get hands-on experience by getting involved in projects that are aligned with the skills you want to obtain. Doing a little extra can be beneficial in gaining new knowledge while building career resilience. Let your manager know you want to learn new skills and be clear on what you can offer.

Volunteering is also a great way to gain skills, experience and knowledge, whilst stepping outside your comfort zone. Not only will you be giving back to the community, but you’ll also expose yourself to new insights where work can’t or doesn’t. Volunteering also has health benefits — a 2020 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that volunteers were more satisfied with their lives and reported better overall health.

4. Grow in your skills and knowledge, whether online or physical

Developing new career skills doesn’t necessarily mean going back to school, but if you want to get the theory down pat, then by all means. Unlike in school, you can choose your preferred medium and platform to receive relevant knowledge.

Enjoy in-person meet-ups? Sign up for classes or attend various courses, events and seminars to develop new career skills. If you decide to take it further, then take certification courses or another degree, especially if it is necessary for your next career move. If you’d rather learn online, consider subscribing or registering for virtual classes, webinars, blogs, podcasts and videos to increase your knowledge.

CareersFinder empowers you to discover your upskilling and career needs through personalised jobs and skills recommendations. Explore it now! 

5. Take advantage of your downtime

Hold up — we’re not saying to spend your leave days attending courses or doing extra work. Rather, we suggest making better, more meaningful use of the breaks in your workday without drastically changing your schedule.

For instance, instead of spending your lunch break catching up on social media, choose to watch a training video or read a career article. If you take public transport to work, you can watch a video course or listen to a podcast on the commute. Look at it this way — if you take an hour to travel to and from work every day, you can add about five hours of focused learning time each week.

Examine when you have time to carve out mini self-development opportunities. Whether you’re waiting for your kids to finish soccer class or you’re going for a run around the neighbourhood, these pockets of time can be used as productive learning time.

Learning and building new skills can initially seem overwhelming, so start small by choosing one or two things to focus on to make your goals more manageable. 

Taking active steps to build your career skills helps you remain relevant in the job market and be resilient for the future. You’ll increase your chances of career success by adding to your skills portfolio.

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