Changes in technology are rapid these days, so a willingness to learn and adapt is what employers need from new hires. Employers don’t need you to match all the technical skills listed in a job vacancy, but they want you to be curious and keen enough to want to learn these skills and progress over time.
We will go into schools and take students and put them straight into paid boat building apprenticeships as long as they’re keen and motivated to learn.
Chris van der Hor, general manager, New Zealand Marine and Composites ITO
Willingness to learn is also vital to career progression, especially if vacancies only exist for entry level positions. If you reject starting in an entry level job and learning your way to a higher role, you risk being out of work for a long time or not finding your ideal career altogether.
Convince employers you’re willing to learn on your CV
Tweak the verbs in your CV to describe your experience in a way that shows you're prepared to learn. Good verbs to use are – developed, achieved, adapted, applied, learnt, trained, explored and evaluated.
- Example 1: I supervised a team of lifeguards at Kowhai Pools.
- Change to: I developed my leadership skills supervising a team of lifeguards at Kowhai Pools.
- Example 2: I was responsible for choosing a client management system.
- Change to: I explored and learnt about different client management systems, and evaluated options before choosing a system for our organisation.
Employers want to see that you continued to learn new skills outside usual school and work tasks.
Education section of your CV: List school and tertiary qualifications, as well as any on-the-job training or professional courses you’ve undertaken.
Technical skills section of your CV: Skills such as software you’ve mastered, a first aid certificate or languages you can speak should be listed here.
Work experience section of your CV: Evidence of on-the-job training where you’ve had to learn new skills is valuable. Employers like to see if you’ve progressed to a higher role in an organisation, or if you’ve successfully adapted to an entirely new career.
Achievements section of your CV: Achievements that show your ability to learn could be sports, science or arts achievements, or awards for your work.
Make sure your CV looks sharp – if it is not online, is full of mistakes and has a bad layout, employers will think you can’t adapt to new technology.
Avoid gaps in your CV
Gaps in your CV are a big indicator to employers on your ability to adapt. Gaps between paid jobs do happen, what’s important to show in your CV or cover letter is how you managed this.
- You cared for family – what did you do to stay up to date with your career? Did you do any community work?
- You left school without a career or study planned – did you take a gap year? Did you do community or paid work before you decided on a career?
- You lost your job or were out of work for a long time – did you retrain? Did you consider a new career? Did you attend network events, career seminars or get career coaching?
Explaining that you did community work, retrained or networked while taking a gap from paid work shows employers you are motivated to learn.
Show you’re willing to learn in your interview
In interviews, persuade employers you're keen to learn new skills.
- Tell them you’re happy to train or upskill.
- Give examples of when you’ve trained in previous jobs.
- Share experience of getting feedback from managers, and what you did to improve from that feedback.
- Offer to do a work trial while you learn the new job.
- Talk about your five year plan to progress your career.
- Show an understanding of the training you’ll need to progress.
Ask questions about the organisation - not assuming you know everything and having the attitude you can always learn more, will score points.
Find out more about employability skills
- Resilience skills top of employers' wish list for new hires
- How to convince employers you’re a team player
- Self-management skills key to securing that job
- Impress employers with your strong thinking skills
- Should you put communication skills on your CV?
- How to show your positive attitude to employers
- Why are these seven skills so important to employers?
- Skills employers are looking for