How to Build Skills

In the last series of blogs, I wrote about career planning in the planning stage of a skills based approach. I am now going to write a series of blogs about the building stage.

Equipped with a plan to learn the skills in your skill set, you enter into the building stage of the skills based approach. You might be a student or an entry-level or mid-career professional, so you could be taking different actions to learn the skills in your skill set. Your plan might be to take a course, participate in an internship, accept a project at work, read a book, or volunteer with a local organization (or any combination of these actions). During the building stage, you must make assessments regarding how well you are learning skills, communicate with your supervisors regarding what you want to accomplish, make decisions on what the next steps are in developing skills, find a mentor to help you move forward, and discover methodologies or practiced ways to apply a skill.

How to Build Skills
How to Build Skills

There are a few types of assessments: a self-assessment, a formal or informal employment evaluation, a grade for a project or course, a team evaluation, or the results from a certification or test. The assessment you utilize will depend on how you are learning your skill. It is worthwhile to keep a diary to record your assessments, track your progress, and provide context with your experiences.

Whether you are taking a class or doing a project at work, you should communicate to your professor or supervisor and let them know what you are trying to accomplish with your skill set. This is especially important when you are starting new employment; it is important to “set the stage” with a new employer.

You should seek out a mentor throughout your career. If you find a mentor, their contribution to your career development is immeasurable; learning from a master might be the fastest way to develop your skill set.

There are usually many ways to apply a skill so it is worth knowing the different methodologies. As you become an expert with your skill set, you will have a collection of methodologies – some your own and some borrowed; you will have finely-tuned and practiced them with experience.

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