Looking for a new job can be a full time role in itself.

If you already have work (that is paying the bills) and need to gain more skills for your next career move it can seem impossible. Don’t be too quick to throw in the towel. If you stop the work you’re doing (and stop earning) how can you then afford to gain the new skills? It’s a catch 22 situation and one that we find many of our candidates in at some point in their lives.

Whilst still in employment, there are things that you can do to add to your “toolbox” of skills and experience.

Ask about any Opportunities Availability

Asking your manager about opportunities for development and learning is always positive. Stick to development that is relevant to your job role (unless you work for a highly successful and cash rich organisation that is able to invest in personal self development for example).

You may wish to be more specific and ask your manager whether the company has a career development plan in place which will give you the opportunity to attend training during working hours.

If you go to your manager with some research on skills that could benefit the company it may mean that you are no longer need to look for your next career move. At the least, it will show your manager that you are thinking around how you can add value and highlight to him/her that you are keen to take on additional responsibility.

Learn another Skill Whilst On the Job

We’re so busy doing our own job in the workplace that we don’t always recognise when we could learn from those around us. What project is your boss working on? How is your colleague managing to run the new piece of machinery in? How has the new software been implemented – did a needs analysis get carried out beforehand?

There are often circumstances that may lend themselves to additional skills being learned. Why not offer to shadow or help someone? As long as it doesn’t take you away from the work that you are being paid to do for any length of time it may be welcomed. You then have new skills and knowledge …………….and you may not need a new job at all. (See where I’m going here?)

Participate in External Training

Specific training courses are a terrific way to learn new skills and depending on the course you choose, you may be able to tap into funding available from your employer (the usual rule is that the training paid for is relevant to your job role within the business) – If you’re in IT, a fashion design course may not be covered.

Whilst going to college/ a new location to train you will also be meeting new people which would develop your interpersonal and communication skills if this is what you want.

Booking some training under your own steam will mean spending money and devoting some time outside of work. There are likely to be a huge number of choices available to you once you start looking around so be sure to be clear on the resources you are willing to invest; Is there an online course that you could do that is flexible or would a short term intensive course suit you better?

Become a Volunteer

Volunteering can help you with gaining all sorts of new skills. Locally, we have volunteers that are regenerating differing sections of the canal, who refurbish dilapidated buildings for community projects, who run food banks and work in charity shops. You don’t need to have any experience necessarily – just the willingness to get involved. It may seem like you’re working for nothing (which of course you are) but hey presto, at the same time you are meeting a network of new people, improving your team work and communication skills and perhaps …. learning a new trade.

Tricia Hay

Tricia Hay is Owner, Director of First Base Employment Limited