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6 Tips For Learning A New Skill

August 29, 2016

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. It’s a commonly used phrase that just so happens to apply to boomers everywhere.

Boomers on the job hunt are put at an immediate disadvantage by many employers who assume that older professionals are unwilling or unable to learn new skills for their work. It’s an unfair generalization, but experts insist it is a common barrier that boomers must overcome. But how do you change someone’s mind of such opinions? You simply prove them wrong. Research the newest and most relevant skills that employers in your industry are looking for and work to add that valued skill to your resume.

Now, learning a new skill cannot be brushed aside as a simple task. If the skill was so easy then everyone would already know it. But with hard work and dedication, you can have a new advantage for you job hunt. Here are a few tips to help you on your way to mastering a new skill.

Understand the benefit.

Before you get started, you should get into the right mindset to learn your new skill. You should not look at this as a chore that just needs to get done, but rather an opportunity to better yourself and your career. Do a considerable amount of research into the new skill and why you should be taking it on. What will you gain from it? How will you apply it to your work? If you discover that you don’t see its value, then maybe you should think twice before dedicating your efforts to learn it. This should not be something you enter into reluctantly.

Understand the various steps.

While there is certainly a lot of online resources to help you with taking on a new skill, but sometimes these methods are the shortcut and not too effective. It is tempting to follow the simple step-by-step process of learning, but if you follow those steps to blindly, you’ll likely lose a lot of valuable information. Consider each step and what it means to the bigger picture, question why this is important and how this will help you learn your new skill. In the end you’ll have a better grasp of your new talent and can better retain it.

Set a timetable.

A job search is a full time job and it can be difficult to add anymore responsibilities on top of that. Maybe you’re not fully done with your current job, or you have household responsibilities to consider, so it’s easy for you new skill to be pushed aside. Know this, you will not master anything if you’re not willing to put the time into it. Put together a schedule of when you can dedicate time to your research, practice and strengthening of your new skill. Stick to your timetable strictly and don’t let yourself cheat. Setting a deadline may be counterintuitive but a regular schedule is a must for successful outcomes.

Talk to experts.

It’s always wise to seek out advice when embarking on something new. Don’t be shy in asking people who have already mastered the skill in question for their own tips at how to best take on the task. Talking about the learning process with someone who has already been successful with it can help you to identify any areas you may need to work on.

Don’t get too creative.

Certainly people have their own methods for learning that they have used for years. What works for some people might not work for others. But while you should tackle this learning process in a way that you’re comfortable with, it’s probably not the best time to try something new. When learning a new skill, the tried and true methods will usually work best for you. Again, only you will know what method will work best for you, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

Test yourself along the way.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. It is essential to mastering a new skill and totally necessary throughout the entire learning process. You don’t start without any knowledge and then after research and reading you one day wake up with a new talent. You need to test your skills throughout the process to see what progress you are making. Are you improving? Is it becoming easier? Are you stuck at a particular stage? Research is important but practice is where you find success.

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