Get a job where you are paid to learn things you wanted to master anyway. I know this may sound a bit counter-intuitive since you think employers are hiring because you are already an expert, but you’d be surprised what they value more.  

Look at it this way. Yes, there are some companies that want a full glass of water. Someone completely skilled up and ready to perform every task at a high level on day one. However, many dare I say smarter companies, see the value in hiring someone who may have 65% of the skills (water) on day one, and demonstrate a 95% capacity learn anything else quickly. 

Office group working

With industries, technology, and customer requirements changing so rapidly, the knowledge a person has during the recruiting process can start becoming obsolete within a year or two.  If their self-confidence rests heavily on what they already know, versus what they can learn, that person can easily become a deflated under performer when conditions change. Here comes the learner!

Some companies don’t care or can’t afford to train staff, so they go for only experienced hires. I’d be interested to see data on the cost-benefit ratio since the experienced hire will likely request a higher salary. Also the attrition rate when these same rock stars realise the company can’t sustain the enticing compensation or desired career growth going forward. But I digress. 

Young woman working

In many cases once you have a certain base level of expertise for the job, good companies who can afford it, are willing to train you and fill in the blanks with specific education of how work is done at their company. This can mean golden opportunities if you keep your eyes open and actively seek chances to grow.  Keep in mind that this will mean tossing your official job description in the trash, and replacing it with “Learn how to get things done”. It may also mean taking on some new tasks without an immediate bump in your pay. Manage this carefully, but consider the exchange of value.

You can quickly turn a job into a sort of reverse college arrangement where instead of paying tuition, you are getting paid to study, practice, and master skills that peaked your interest anyway.  About 90% of my professional career has been a mission to understand how money works and how rich people manage to accumulate so much money. Yes, I studied accounting in college and even got an MBA. However some of the most fruitful learning came while getting paid to count and manage money for wealthy people and companies.   

Last week I accepted the opportunity to shift some of my time away from client facing activities, and work directly with the investment analysts. Some people might see this as a step backwards from the seemingly glamours investment manager role.  I’m quite excited, as now I’m getting paid to work with some of the smartest people in a private bank, and learn the real skills of analysing financial statements, structuring deals, and evaluating investments like you hear about on Wall Street.  These are skills I can use even beyond the day job to assist with making personal business deals and investment decisions. The best part is, I’m getting paid while learning and only sacrificing my time and effort.

It’s like getting paid to exercise. The hot body is yours to flaunt even after you leave the gym. So the next time someone tries to clown you for working a “regular” job, just make sure you’re receiving extraordinary knowledge for this season of your life and brush them off.

Woman clapping at work

Bonus Tip:

Here’s the bottom line for leaders. Look at your people carefully. There are some traits like discipline, enthusiasm, curiosity and rapid learning capacity that you may not have the time or resources to teach.  If     one of your people already has these things, it may be better to keep them onboard and redirect their energy to a new task, than to hire a fire cracker that will burn bright and die quickly. Recognising and capitalising on these nuances is the task of true leadership.

Dalan is a private banker, executive career coach and content creator sharing essential career advice for ambitious young professionals at Catch him on social media @dalanv.