How to make the most of your new IT skills
One of the most problematic parts of learning a new skill is finding the time to actually put it into practice. This is commonly the case when learning new IT skills as often the training is fairly general and only a very small proportion of what’s taught will get used. This may be because other content really is entirely irrelevant, or because an individual doesn’t see the potential for using their learning. This constrained thinking often comes from the culture of the workforce, where employees may feel limited by the explicit remit of their job role and have never thought about how their new skills could apply in a wider setting. But in reality there are often countless opportunities to use new skills if the individual is open to them. If you keep an eagle eye out, you might be surprised at how many opportunities there are around you to use your new IT skills.
Some ways you might use your new IT skills
- Train others – if you’ve received training on skills or technology that few other people in your team have, then maximise your learning by offering to train them. If you notice a colleague struggling with a certain piece of software that you now know how to use you can offer to help them. Or if only you have been trained to use a certain programme, then take time to train some of your colleagues in its use, even just at a basic level. That way if you’re not around, then the office doesn’t have to go into meltdown because no one else knows how to use it.
- Volunteer for new projects – volunteering your help on projects outside of your direct responsibility will not only be a great way to apply your new IT skills, but also will ensure you get noticed by management as being proactive and a team player. Your impressive PowerPoint skills could see you helping out the sales department with bids, for example. It also provides opportunities to sample other areas of the business, helping to explore potential means of progression.
- Take up a new hobby – if you find yourself in the situation where you’ve learnt a new skill and it has very little relevance or applicability to your work role, then there’s no reason why you can’t use it outside of work instead. Perhaps you’ve discovered formulas in Excel that can help with your household accounting, or maybe you uncovered a love for SQL coding that you can then use as a springboard to more advanced coding. However you choose to use it, it’s far better to use it casually than forget it entirely.
The above are just a few brief ideas about how individuals can employ their new IT skills; there will of course be others depending on the individual’s ambition and their organisation’s flexibility. However while finding new and innovative ways to apply new skills will be important to maximise the benefits of training in some cases, it’s arguably more important to make sure that employees are being offered training that actually meets their needs. While some may enjoy having the chance to expand their horizons, it shouldn’t be a requirement for them to go above and beyond their current responsibilities to actually use their new skills, plus it is an inefficient use of the business’ time and money to train employees on unnecessary programmes. It is therefore far better for time to be taken to help employees identify the right training that will enable them to do their job better and more efficiently. This will involve specifying the exact tasks an individual is responsible for (with an awareness this may change over time), identifying any skills gaps that need addressing (either to fulfil the current role or to progress), select suitable training options, and then also plan out in detail how these new skills will be applied one training is complete, and of course evaluate its use down the line.
Using your new IT skills shouldn’t be hard, ideally training should make your current job easier while still offering you opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills, and if that’s not the case, then there are always opportunities to use your skills in others ways, you simply have to look.