For ambitious women with a focus on developing themselves and their career, identifying skills gaps and then finding ways to plug those gaps is a crucial step in proactively directing your career path.
We interview successful women from our Endorsed Employers all the time to gather their helpful tips and tricks, and here we’ve gathered some of their advice about reaching the next step.
Always be Learning
Career-long learning is a common theme among women thriving in their careers.
“When I completed university, I thought, ‘Great! I don’t need to study anymore!’ But in reality, we must continue to learn and maintain skills. I have obtained numerous qualifications in behaviour and technical areas while in mining. Although it may seem tricky to balance work with training, your commitment in the early days will pay off because you’ll need a broad range of skills, knowledge and exposures to progress to a leadership role or to specialise.”
Learning takes many forms. It can be on the job, taking up alternative opportunities within your organisation, formal study, learning from mentors… the list goes on. Identify as many of these opportunities to learn as possible.
Particularly in technical areas it can be useful to gain formal training and certificates, but thankfully upskilling doesnt have to cost you the earth. Marina d’Amico wanted to obtain a Scrum Master Certification to strengthen her credentials when applying for new roles.
“Most certifications were very expensive, however I managed to find some free Scrum Master online training with great YouTube videos,” said Marina. She completed an online exam and built up her practical experience on the job.
See what online learning might be available for you and explore your options. Many workplaces support continued education, so talk to HR or your manager about financial support for formal qualifications.
Secondments and On the Job Training
“Look for projects you can get involved in, let your manager know that you are keen to take on more so they can help to get you involved in side projects that can utilize your strengths, while giving you the exposure with other business units.”
Additionally, “Secondments are the best way for you to sit in the hot spot of a role you are keen to get some hands-on experience in, without jeopardising what you were originally hired for. If you are doing any further studies or are curious to see how far your current skills can be transferred, take that curiosity to the next level.”
Being proactive, identifying projects, roles and opportunities, and asking your manager to help you achieve them is an effective way to guide your own development.
Increase Confidence Through Volunteering
Renee Noble from the Girls Programming Network says that volunteering can be a great way to increase your skills;
“Volunteering has given me so many skills. I think women sometimes have trouble applying for jobs when they don’t feel like they have all of the skills they require. A great way to get around that is by volunteering!”
WORK180’s own co-founders, Valeria and Gemma, met while volunteering for Females in Information Technology & Telecommunications, so they built on their skills set and grew their networks in a way they couldn’t have imagined when they started!
Build Non-Technical Skills
Volunteering is one way to help build confidence, grow your network, and develop your non-technical skills such as problem-solving, leadership and collaboration. When we asked some of our Endorsed Employers what the most important ‘soft’ skills are they highlighted communication, adaptability, critical thinking and teamwork.
There are many ways to build these skills, from formal leadership training to on-the-job practice. Speaking to mentors and colleagues about where your gaps are will help you identify where to focus.
Take Some Risks
With all the planning and preparation in the world, there are still a lot of unknowns and things we can’t control. You can line all your ducks up in an orderly row and things may still not go to plan, and sometimes you can throw caution to the wind and have an unexpected positive outcome!
Upfront, it’s not always clear to see where an opportunity or role may take you but being flexible allows you to learn new skills along the way and can open up experiences and career pathways you may not have considered before.
“I’ve been very lucky with the companies and people I’ve worked for, but I also feel like I put myself out there, took risks, and that has helped me. One of the most rewarding decisions I’ve made in my career was taking a risk and moving into a very technical team, which has opened up a world of opportunities. It isn’t an obvious series of dots to connect, however not shying away from risks and being willing to adapt and learn is how I’ve managed to thrive in technology at NAB.”