5 Ways To Sharpen Your Skills At Work

Robert Hosking's picture

School may be out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean you should take an educational break. Administrative professionals face an always evolving set of tasks and regular professional development is a necessity. A new survey from OfficeTeam reveals what type of training employees prefer. But it's also an opportunity to outline how to get the training you need.

OfficeTeam's survey revealed that 33 percent of workers identified in-house, instructor-led workshops as the type of professional training they value most. Tuition reimbursement for off-site seminars ranked second, with 22 percent of the response, surpassing online courses (18 percent) and reference books (16 percent).

Companies appear attuned to workers’ desires for in-person training: More than two-thirds (67 percent) of human resources (HR) managers polled said their organization offers this type of instruction. Many firms also provide books or other reference materials (64 percent) and online courses (62 percent). However, only 35 percent of executives indicated they subsidize classes taken by employees outside of work. In addition, 12 percent said they do not offer any of these training options to staff.

Pursuing ongoing education helps individuals enhance their skills and expertise, marketability, and earning power. If your employer does not offer training options, you should look for outside learning resources.

Here’s how you can keep your skills current:  

  • Assess resources. Find out what types of training opportunities are available within your company and whether tuition reimbursement is offered for external courses. You also should explore low-cost options such as online programs and books.
  • Participate in professional associations. As a member of IAAP and other groups, you can attend workshops and educational sessions where you can update your business knowledge and abilities. These events, whether in-person or online, also provide an avenue for networking and sharing ideas with others in your field.  
  • Take on new challenges. Talk to your manager about getting involved in projects outside of your normal responsibilities. Volunteer for assignments that stretch your skills. 
  • Find a mentor. If your employer doesn’t have an in-house mentoring program, look for someone inside or outside your company whose expertise you admire, and ask if he or she will assist you. 
  • Help others. Volunteer on committees or for leadership roles at organizations where you can develop skills that not only benefit the group but also are applicable to your job.

As an administrative professional, you can't afford to be passive about your training. It's in your own best interest to actively pursue professional development. But that doesn't have to be an intimidating process. Follow these few simple steps and you'll remain sharp and savvy.

(Robert Hosking is executive director of OfficeTeam, the nation’s leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled office and administrative support professionals. Come to the OfficeTeam interactive session during EFAM, “Professional Skills Portfolio: Build Your Resume and Interview to Get the Job or Promotion” from 3:00-5:00pm on July 31 to hear more career advice from Hosking and have your resume reviewed by our staffing managers. OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.officeteam.com. You can connect with OfficeTeam on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.)