How to Leverage Your Ability to Learn to Get Ahead at Work

professional skills

You excelled at learning during your school years; now you're trying to move ahead at work, which can involve leveraging your learning abilities. Based on the needs of your workplace, these suggestions can help you turn your learning power into earning power.

Hitting the Books to Climb the Corporate Ladder

Managers appreciate workers who can learn. Pursuing continuing education shows that you're a good long-term investment for your company's resources and makes you a more attractive candidate for any promotions or positions that might become available.

The practice of filling vacancies or promoting from within is known as ''internal recruitment'' or ''internal hiring.'' It's generally easier and less expensive for a company to fill a new or recently vacated position with an existing employee than it is to hire from outside the company.

Leverage your ability to learn to climb the corporate ladder at work.

In addition to your experience at the company, your ability and willingness to learn can set you apart from other job candidates. To turn that advantage into an opportunity for career growth, you'll need to determine what education and training can help you meet your goals.

Advancing within Your Current Company

Start by researching the requirements for advancement. Are there any certifications that will help you qualify for a more senior post in your current area? Would a graduate degree help you merit a promotion? Once you've determined the requisite education or certifications, it's time to evaluate available learning resources.

These might include one or all of the following:

  • Online coursework
  • Test prep programs
  • On-the-job training

Online courses offer a flexible opportunity to learn and can improve work-life balance.

Take advantage of internal job boards when seeking a more lucrative career path with your employer. Benefits include working toward your career transition while still fulfilling the duties associated with your current job.

Carving Out a Niche Position

If you can't find any existing opportunities to advance your career, it may be possible to carve out your own niche. Evaluate your company's needs and how they could be served by a more educated you. Put together a detailed proposal for your manager, and confer with HR to make sure there are no impediments to your plan.

Talk to your boss about your plans to advance at work by learning new job skills.

Make an appointment to discuss your proposal with your boss. The cooperation of your supervisors is an essential part of working your way up in the company. If your manager seems receptive, collaborate on a written plan for your training and advancement.

Please note that creating your own niche position can be a risky path to take. When doing so, you'll have to rely on your knowledge of the company culture. So use your best judgment to figure out if management will be supportive.

Balancing Current Duties & Career Aspirations

While your ability to learn can propel you forward at your current job, there are other factors to consider. Balancing your present job duties and your life outside of work with the career advancement you hope to attain is crucial.

Your team at work may need reassurance about your plans to learn new job skills.

Reassure both your colleagues and management that you're still a team player. Clearly explain how you'll continue meeting your current responsibilities while learning new job skills - you don't want others to feel like they're picking up your slack or that you're not pulling your weight at work.

Have a frank talk with your family about the impact the training period might have on your availability and explain what you're trying to accomplish. Try to strike a healthy balance between home, job training, and work.

Wherever possible, make use of flexible training options. For example, online coursework is a convenient way to optimize your time and avoid stressors like extra commuting for classes.

Learning to Unlock Career Potential

Being a quick study doesn't just help you make good grades at school. It's an important skill set that can mean ongoing advancement in your career.

Transform your ability to learn into a professional certificate, license, or degree. With over 4,000 online courses available from, you're sure to find the education and training you need to take your career to the next level.

By Michelle Baumgartner
November 2018

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