Back to School – What do you need to learn?

The leaves are nowhere near falling, but all over the country kids are slowly coming to terms with heading back to school. Well, at least mine are. Pretty sure it was shopping for school supplies that brought it home for them.

All kidding aside, this is a great time to consider going back to school yourself. Maybe not literally school – although earning a graduate degree can be a great career boost. No, what I’m suggesting is a skills review, or taking a hard look at the skills you need to learn in order to remain relevant and competitive. And by the way, a skills review is a great idea whether you are happy in your current role (no better way to make yourself more valuable!) or if you are looking to make a change.

In today’s highly competitive business environment, we all need to be in constant learning mode. No one can afford to take a vacation from developing new skills. So where do you start? Some skills gaps are obvious and specific. It may be a particular type of software in which you need to become more proficient. Or you are still behind the curve on certain aspects of how social media works. But other deficits are not so clear. Do you need to improve communication skills, public speaking or certain leadership skills?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will get the ball rolling.

  • Do you keep up on current news and trends in your industry?
  • Have you been in essentially the same job (even though your title may have changed) for more than 5 years?
  • Does your job provide new opportunities to learn and grow?
  • Do you feel up-to-date on the emerging technologies that are affecting your industry or your job?
  • Is ongoing professional training a part of your performance reviews at work?
  • When was the last time you attended a professional seminar or workshop?
  • Does your current level of education qualify you for the job you want next?
  • Do you feel like an expert in your field?
  • Do you seek feedback from your boss and teammates on your performance and skills?
  • Do the people you work with inspire you and give you great ideas?

Your responses to these questions should paint a clear picture and tell you if you need to freshen up some skills or invest in some serious professional development. Don’t be afraid to head back to school. Remember that your comfort zone is a nice place, but it’s not where you grow.

If you need help assessing your professional skills, check us out at


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