Despite the importance of building new skills and experiences in order to get a job, people can find it difficult to find reasons to attend training courses—especially if they need to make up the work time later. Life gets busy with pets, commuting, personal projects, and family obligations.
However, the research says you’ll feel more fulfilled at work with training. Without training, you’re (statistically) likely to find a new job much sooner.
New connections are some of the best reasons to attend training courses
Your network will forever be one of your most valuable assets as a working professional. While networking is the way to grow the number of people you know, simply attending networking events and trying to play at small talk isn’t the best way to accomplish that (ironically).
Attending training sessions can create a pretense to get to know people instead of trying to interest them in hiring you. You won’t meet as many people compared to a networking event, since you’ll spend most of your time listening to a seminar or working on a lesson.
However, you can create stronger connections with those fewer people. It’s about building trust and respect with those people in the moments in between the training itself:
- Sharing pens and paper
- Clarifying one thing or another from the training session
- Chatting together with the instructor during breaks
Those connections will remember you better than if you’d just exchanged brief pleasantries because you’ll have shared an experience together.
Get job search referrals
If you’re comfortable telling people that you’re hunting for a job then they might be able to make referrals for you sooner than later. Normally networking is a long-term game because you’re not supposed to expect anything in return for helping out others, but building an accelerated rapport with those people can open doors that much faster.
You still shouldn’t expect new connections to refer you to hiring managers specifically, but you can make use of the training session to get 2-3 people on your side to vouch for you and to keep an eye out for you.
Your job search grows with every new person in your corner.
You don’t want to come off as pushy, so it’s wise to wait until people ask what you do or where you work—or to open up about your job search after they get to know you better.
Improve your resume
Most people in the world just get a job and coast. They stay in one kind of role using one skill set for 10 years or more. Sometimes they take one-off seminars, but it’s not going to do much for their careers.
You need to do better than that to stand out from competitors, but thankfully it’s a low bar to clear.
Staying competitive in today’s job market means developing new skills periodically every few years. Training sessions are one of the best ways to acquire those skills, as well as to meet people who can show you how to get started. It’s one the reasons to attend training courses that stay with you for the rest of your career.
Start with online courses (I still take them all the time), but there’s extra value in live training sessions. Instructors conducting the training have a grasp on the skills the industry wants, and they can tell you the best way to navigate courses and certification programs.
Even starting with informal courses online can give you an edge as a young professional. Every new notch on your resume shows hiring managers that you’re willing to grow and do hard work. They want that work ethic and budding skill set on their team.
Join professional associations
Professional associations offer training, networking, as well as organizational inroads into mid- and high-level positions in their respective industries. It makes them worth your time and money as your career develops. Some companies will also outsource their training and development solutions to professional associations (or their preferred vendors) to capitalize on membership discounts and some marketing at the same time.
Unfortunately, associations tend to include membership fees that can be cost-prohibitive to entry-level professionals on entry-level salaries. Keep your eye on joining as your income grows.
The training might even offer standardized certification recognized by a regulating industry authority, which helps considerably when your career begins to take off. They tend to be recognized by larger corporations—which means you can use those certifications and association connections as launchpads to land your next job when the opportunity arises, making you a strong candidate on paper.
Pro tip: if you work for a medium or large company, then it be willing to pay for that membership for you. It’s not uncommon for corporations to get discounts in exchange for sponsorships or for purchasing a certain volume of memberships.
Get involved with industry conferences
Training courses are often administered by the same governing organizations or associations that host or sponsor industry conferences. Conferences are widely considered to be gold mines for things like:
- Personal branding
Getting to know the people involved in training courses can introduce you to the right people at those conferences. Conferences are usually open to anyone who can pay the ticket price, but it helps if you can get introductions and some pointers on the best keynote events to attend.
The professional circles discovered at conferences could serve you for a lifetime.
Bonus reasons to attend training courses: improved retention and reputation
People leave jobs for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is when they feel they’re underpaid. Employees may or may not deserve raises, but top-performing employees probably do—and they’ll start to feel unappreciated when their professional growth slows down or stops.
If you’re a high achiever then it’s worth keeping in mind that experienced employers know this.
High achievers don’t stop growing, which means that they need new experiences and opportunities for skill development to feel fulfilled.
More than that, they will likely expect some kind of compensation for their new skills. If the employer has already paid for the training or sending that person to a conference or two, then a raise on top of that might be a tough sell. If that high achiever brings new value to the business that justifies the raise, then it could still be worth it.
Keep that in mind if you consider yourself a high achiever!
It’s okay not to want to do extra training on top of a full-time job, but think about all of the extra benefits to your career development before you say no. It might accelerate your career faster than you expect.