Never Stop Learning
By Elijah Thomas
Continuing education can do more than improve your chances in landing the next job. It can make for a more rewarding life.
GOING BACK TO SCHOOL
Some fields actually require continuing education in order to remain employed. For others, however, these courses, classes and projects provide a pathway to better job opportunities. Hiring managers take the full breadth of your resume into account, and additional educational pursuits show a dedication to your field above and beyond every-day work obligations. When applying for some jobs, you may find that their pay bands are actually dictated by levels of education or other instructional achievements. If you’re not near a college that offers related coursework, be on the lookout for seminars, training and certification courses, professional affiliations and workshop-presentation opportunities that can add depth to your resume.
There are a number of online learning opportunities that may bolster your candidacy. They’re particularly useful if you’re overburdened at your current job, since schedules are often flexible. For instance, the edX site sponsors free courses from top schools like Harvard and MIT. Other online educational platforms include Coursera and Skillshare. Each provides an opportunity to close the skills gap some candidates may face, or help them acquire the knowledge base to start a new career. If you feel like you are up-to-date with so-called “hard” skills, consider taking online courses in “soft” ones like leadership, communication, adaptability, conflict resolution, decision making, creativity, motivation, time management and teamwork. Techniques learned there will lead to better outcomes outside of the office, too.
Going to faraway conferences is a great way to network for your next job, while learning about your field’s newest techniques. Like college courses, however, they can be very expensive. What if you can’t afford to attend, either because of office responsibilities or sudden unemployment? That shouldn’t stop you from working on professional development. Read as broadly as you can, going beyond general news into focused reports on the work you do. Whether that means subscribing to a professional newsletter or scrolling through the Harvard Business Review, you’ll be gaining valuable new information that could very well help you land the next job. Join related virtual communities, and network with people through professional sites like LinkedIn. These discussions are bound to spark fresh ideas.