In today’s world, having only a qualification (university degree or school certificate) is not enough to land a good job. The job market now requires people with skills, and most importantly soft skills (communication, languages, teamwork, etc)
Unfortunately, in most cases, you do not acquire such skills at school or university. You learn these skills through daily life, work, and communicating with other people. The question is, are there ways to learn these skills faster and better? Here are some of the tips and examples to do so from V Academy.
What is a skill?
Let us know first how we can define a skill. That will enable us to master new skills better.
Skill – an ability to perform a specific task or activity to a high level of proficiency.
You can master, or we can say hone a skill with more practice and work. If you want to hone a skill, you cannot just read about it in a book or an article; i.e. theory only.
Why we need to always learn new skills
Life is all about change; constant change, actually. It is sensible to devise a plan of continuous learning and growth to lead a better life. Below are some of the reasons why constantly acquiring new skills is worth your time and effort.
1. Jobs, with the latest technologies and advancements, are so fast in change and evolution in our modern-day world. Snooze and you will lose! Learning new skills makes it easier for you to find new opportunities in the job market, and ensures that you are up-to-date with your skills and knowledge of what is changing in the world.
2. Your brain is like a muscle. Training your brain to keep it in shape is the way to succeed more. Acquiring new skills is the kind of practice that is needed to boost your brainpower.
3. By having more skills, you will become more flexible. By flexible we mean being able to focus, make decisions and make use of unanticipated situations more quickly. This is a much-needed quality in today’s technologically complex world.
4. Honing new skills will increase your chances of success. Remember that Albert Einstein, the famous physicist, never thought of himself as a talented or gifted person. He believed that his scientific success and discoveries were the result of his inquisitiveness. He once said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
5 methods & benefits
Acquiring and mastering skills is, therefore, important from both a personal and professional perspective. But how can you best acquire and master new skills? And what methods are available to help you in practice?
1. On‑the‑job training
On‑the‑job training is a great way to acquire and master new skills without even having to leave the workplace. If you have co-workers with particularly appealing skill sets, ask them how they acquired those skills. Use their tips as a springboard. Alternatively, you could tackle things a little more formally by asking your employer or line manager, whether it would be possible to hire an expert in a specific field.
2. Training courses & workshops
You could also pick up new skills by taking a traditional training course or workshop. Many universities and high schools offer courses or seminars for people outside their institutions. Workshops are an ideal setting in which to acquire a particular skill, for example, a specific IT skill such as website design, coding, or programming.
And don’t forget to ask your employer whether a training budget is available to cover all or some of the costs. Senior and middle management generally appreciate it when employees proactively seek to expand their skill sets. They’re often willing to invest in training courses and education programs for their staff.
Perhaps your schedule doesn’t allow you to attend traditional training courses or education programs, or there are none available in your area. If so, e-learning is an excellent alternative. All you need is a computer and an internet connection.
E-learning entails that you’re not restricted to a given time or place. You can learn and study when and where it suits you. What’s more, the number of interactive courses and digital teaching materials available has grown rapidly in recent years.
4. Webinars & YouTube
Webinars, podcasts, and YouTube videos are inspirational, easily accessible tools that can help you acquire and master new skills. They’re clear and concise and split into manageable chunks. Webinars are often live or on-demand, whereas podcasts and instructional videos are available at any time.
5. Blogs & books
It’s even possible to do your own research. The internet is full of interesting blogs with countless tips for acquiring and mastering a wide range of skills. Or why not go old school? Visit a library or a reputable bookstore! Books remain a valuable source of information, principally because their content is presented in a clear, concise, structured fashion.
10 tips for acquiring & mastering new skills
It’s worth bearing in mind some of the following tips when looking to acquire and master new skills:
1. Create a schedule with fixed study times
Creating structure for your study plan makes it much quicker and easier to acquire and master new skills.
Choose a time that fits in with your natural daily routine. For example, morning people get the most out of study by starting early. Others only pick up steam later in the day, in which case it’s best to plan study time in the afternoon.
2. Get feedback
To put new skills into practice as effectively as possible, it’s essential to get regular feedback. Good feedback allows you to reflect more deeply, which is vital to the learning process.
Take the time every day to reflect on the progress you’re making. What went well? What do you want to improve on next time? Self-reflection strengthens your personal growth and allows you to monitor your progress.
3. Start with core skills
If you have little prior knowledge about a new skill you’re about to learn, it can all seem a bit daunting.
Most skills consist of core skills (core competences) and secondary skills. But what’s the difference? The core skills are essential to learning a new skill, whereas secondary skills are useful, but not essential to mastering this skill.
For example, to become a writer, mastery of a language is a core skill, whereas marketing is a secondary skill. We recommend starting with the core skills.
4. Take things step by step
Acquiring and mastering a new skill is often a long and complex process. That’s why it’s worth your while to split it into a series of smaller steps. Setting milestones like this also helps you monitor the progress you’re making.
5. Learn from other people’s experience
The key to humankind’s success has been its ability to build and improve on other people’s inventions and experiences. This applies equally to acquiring and mastering new skills. Who do you know with the relevant experience and skills you’re looking to acquire? Do they have any tips for you? And what pitfalls should you be on the lookout for?
6. Learn from experts
Study the experts in your relevant field. Who are the authorities? Why are they so good and what makes them authorities in their subject area? Capitalize on this and use their tricks, tips, experience, and knowledge to expand your skill set.
7. Find a mentor
Perhaps there’s a senior employee in your organization who could mentor you towards mastery of a specific skill. Ask them whether they’d be prepared to fulfill this role. Most people are more than willing to help and will gladly share their knowledge with others.
8. Set realistic goals
Set tangible and realistic goals for yourself. Don’t make them too big or insurmountable. This often has a demotivating effect or stops you in your tracks before you even start! Acquiring and mastering new skills involves setting realistic, positive, and challenging goals that inspire you each and every day.
9. Take action
A skill is more than just theoretical knowledge. Although theory may form the basis, acquiring and mastering new skills ultimately involves putting theory into practice. Learning by doing is vital to mastering or honing your skills.
10. Know thyself
Last, but by no means least, a modicum of self-insight can help enormously. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What qualities, talents, and character traits do you have to help you learn a specific skill? Asking yourself these questions generates the insight required to learn more effectively.
As you’ve read, there are many ways and best practices for acquiring and mastering a new skill or honing existing skills. It’s important to know which skills and competencies exist within your organization. Armed with this information, it’s much easier to put together the best possible project teams or to find the best replacements when one of your key staff members is off sick.