Careers Advice: Ways to expand your skill base

Written by: Jason Moore
Published on: 8 Oct 2019

Job interview handshake

The planning career pathway provides a wide array of opportunities for individuals to broaden their skill set and change their career direction. Planners (as you are all aware, of course!) have a fundamental role in the development cycle from conception through to completion and, consequently, we have growth in the number of jobs available, but also an increase in the variety of roles on offer. So, how do you expand your skill base to benefit?

This is not an exhaustive list of ways to expand on your skill set and I’ll start with the most obvious way to work out where you can better develop – speak with your line manager! Displaying an ambition to broaden your skill set is something you should be open with your current employer about so that they can, if possible, provide you with the workload and experience that can challenge you. Ambition is actively encouraged but many still fear demonstrating their desire for the chance to expand, whilst your employers would actively encourage your development which ensures they have a better equipped team!

A fantastic way to expand your skill set and build on growing your confidence and understanding where else you can progress is to network. It does not matter where you are at in your career as networking provides a superb platform for all – for example, an established director can gain new skills from presenting to an audience, whilst those earlier in their careers will gain new knowledge and skills from being in said audience. The Real Estate industry has always had a fantastic reputation for hosting social and informative events across the UK and Planning has a fantastic array of specific options too including Women in Planning, Young Planners and the numerous RTPI groups across the country who host CPD and social events. The one tip I believe in most in this article is to advise you to get out there and network!

Aside from progressing in your role and getting out of the office to meet others, a fantastic way to add to your current set of skills is to volunteer and participate in charity work. Many businesses now actively partner with charities to raise awareness and often much needed funds to support their work. I’ve realised that in breaking from the norm occasionally allows you to learn something new whilst working to the benefit and support of others. There are many ways to get involved as a volunteer and I’d always recommend finding out internally if there is a charity your business supports as they require much more than just funds. Notably, you can assist in organising events, participating in events as a speaker or in numerous other roles or even taking a couple of days annually to undertake some of the work the charity undertakes.

Essentially, there is no prescriptive way for you to develop your own skill set as everyone is unique. However, I hope the pointers above will display some of the avenues available to you that can help your career progress but remember, every day provides you with the opportunity to learn something new – don’t waste it!

Jason Moore is managing consultant at consutlancy Cobalt Recruitment