What You Should Be Learning At Every Stage Of Your Career

3 minutes   |  CAREER ADVICE

You may be trying to make an impression in your first brand management job, or perhaps you’ve been working for a few years and you’re bold enough to take on an MBA. Maybe you’re even sitting on the executive board of your company and want to get back in touch with customers by better understanding their user experience.

Whatever your career situation is right now, with 76% of surveyed employees looking for career growth opportunities and 68% claiming that training and development is the most important company policy,1 it’s evident lifelong learning is a priority for everyone. As your career escalates, the skills you require will evolve too.

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Focus on soft skills during your early to mid-career phase

At the start of your career, it’s likely your employer will be drawn to your hard skills – such as what software you’re competent in and the technical knowledge you would have picked up from internships or job shadowing.

But mastering hard skills won’t necessarily get you promoted. As you spend more time in your role and move towards your mid-career point, employers will start to become more interested in your soft skills.

According to The Flux Report by Right Management,2 91% of HR directors think that people will be recruited based on their ability to deal with change and uncertainty in the near future. On top of that, 60% of HR directors identified employee resilience as key to enabling organisations to achieve their strategic objectives.

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Soft skills that are highly valued by employers include leadership ability, likability, and the ability to get things done.

career stages

To develop these skills, keep asking yourself these key questions:

Leadership
Are you:

  • mentoring others on the team?
  • putting your hand up to lead projects?
  • taking on more than is asked of you?
Likeability
Have you:

  • built a reputation as an excellent leader and mentor?
  • developed a strong relationship with your manager?
Ability to get things done
Can you:

  • work in isolation and in a team?
  • achieve your tasks within the deadline?
  • produce high-quality work?
Leadership
Are you:

  • mentoring others on the team?
  • putting your hand up to lead projects?
  • taking on more than is asked of you?
Likeability
Have you:

  • built a reputation as an excellent leader and mentor?
  • developed a strong relationship with your manager?
Ability to get things done
Can you:

  • work in isolation and in a team?
  • achieve your tasks within the deadline?
  • produce high-quality work?

Moving up into management requires people skills

According to Christine DiDonato, founder of Career Revolution, “a good manager needs to be prepared to boost employees’ energy when their drive wanes. The ability to inspire others is an actual skill many fail at, yet it’s the very one that overrides all functional expertise when managing others. This means you will have to know how to get others excited about an idea or project — enough so they want to take action on their own.”3

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At this stage of your career, two important, high-impact skills you could develop are your project management skills and your coaching communication skills. These skills will enable you to build and lead effective, powerful teams, and grow your expertise as a leader.

Why will project management skills make you a better leader?

Your ability to navigate a project holistically is vital to being able to guide your team’s contribution towards the subtasks involved. You need to be confident of how to manage project deadlines, deploy the right resources to ensure project success and ensure your team is able to work productively and successfully.

How will coaching communication skills contribute to your management role?

Communication skills are a necessity throughout the company – for management and team member – but managers specifically need to use their communication skills for the purpose of mentoring and coaching their team. A manager may find someone on their team has strong technical expertise but lacks in interpersonal abilities. In this scenario, it’s the role of the manager to work with the individual on this specific deficiency in order to grow them professionally.

Gain strategic skills in senior management

An increasingly competitive work environment, globalisation, and a surge in technological advancement mean that organisations have to adapt and evolve quicker than ever before. And who will be leading that charge? The C-suite of leadership: senior management.

In order for an organisation to stay ahead of the game in the workplace of tomorrow, CEOs and senior leaders need to develop strategic skill sets that will prepare them to lead their organisation in an innovative and productive way.

Multinationals setting up in Africa hire locals for executive positions, and use credible MBA skills as an application entry-point.

By embracing continuous learning and training, managers make more effective decisions and are able to define current and future business strategies.

An MBA can be exactly what a senior manager needs in order to:

  1. Develop strategic thinking and planning abilities
  2. More effectively manufacture, advertise and sell your products
  3. Keep the company’s finances healthy
  4. Maintain a positive image of the company brand
  5. Gather and interpret industry data
  6. Know when to make the tough calls and develop the most effective strategy of doing this

Retirement is an opportunity to learn something new

Instead of counting down the moments until you no longer have to wake up for your 8-5 job, view your impending retirement as an opportunity to pretend you’re in your 20s and 30s again. The world is an open book, and you have the luxury to start over.

This may not be a time in your life where you start an entirely new career, but many retirees use this period as an opportunity to pursue passion projects they may have never had the time for previously.career stages 4

At the age of 69, former lecturer, Easwary Alahakone, discovered a new passion in acrylic painting. Although she was “terrible” at it during her first lesson, today her paintings are displayed at art exhibitions.4

According to research, nearly three out of five retirees launch into a new line of work after retirement and 40% of people aged 55+ are working.5

If this is the stage you’re in, consider taking up a new hobby, or learn a new skill, that could end up making you money, such as:


Whatever stage you find your career in, there’s always an opportunity for you to learn something new or update your current skill set.

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