Willingness to Learn New Knowledge and Skills

cartoon drawing of two hands and a brain. Left hand hold a lightening bolt. The right hand holds a light globe.

Having a willingness and ability to learn new knowledge and skills means you are committed to and capable of growing and adapting to new conditions and challenges.

In other words, you have learning agility. Learning agility means you have the ability and willingness to learn from your experience.

A potential employer assessing your willingness to learn will be looking for more than just your preparedness to complete additional training. People with learning agility continually build new skills, learn from experience, and embrace change and new challenges. If you are writing your resume, don’t be daunted by this. It just means there are many ways you can demonstrate your ability and willingness to learn!

This article examines the skills and qualities of the learning agile, offers examples of learning agility at work, and provides prompt questions to help you think of instances when you have demonstrated learning agility.

A Brief Note

Before you dive in, an additional note:

The term learning agility is a resume buzzword. That is to say, the phrase learning agility has become popular. In the same way, as not long ago, everyone had a ‘growth mindset’. You should avoid simply listing learning agility as a skill. Instead, use examples to effectively convince a potential employer of your desire to learn and improve your work performance.

How to Demonstrate Your Willingness to Learn New Knowledge and Skills

The most effective way of demonstrating your willingness to learn new knowledge and skills is to provide specific examples of when you have done so in the past.

You can use these examples within your resume, cover letter, key selection criteria responses, and interview. This article provides some additional advice on using your examples at each stage of the recruitment process.

First, to help you think of your examples is a breakdown of the required skills and qualities and the job indicators of learning agility—also, some questions to prompt some ideas.

Learning Agility Skills & Qualities

Learning agility is not just one skill. Someone with a willingness and ability to learn new skills has several critical skills and qualities.

If you are learning agile, you will have these skills and qualities:

  • Self-Management: You are aware your strengths and weakness and look for opportunities for improvement
  • Abstract Reasoning:  You reason with new information to solve unfamiliar problems quickly
  • Planning & Organisation: You offer a systematic approach to learning and achieving
  • Inquisitiveness: You bring curiosity and a desire to know and learn new things
  • Reflective: You analyse experiences to improve the way you learn and work
  • Determination: You will be persistent and undeterred by failure
  • Open-Mindedness: You are open to new ideas and experiences
  • Flexibility: You adjust your approach as priorities change
  • Speed: You take action quickly

Indicators that you are Willing to Learn New Knowledge and Skills

Indicators of your willingness and ability to learn new knowledge and skills will depend on the role you are performing. However, here are some general examples of what it looks like to be learning agile. These examples will help prompt some ideas of when you have displayed a willingness to learn new skills and knowledge in the past.

At work, someone who is learning agile:

  • Volunteers for roles, even where success is not definite
  • Enjoys tackling complex problems and challenges
  • Remains composed when faced with difficultly
  • Seeks out new challenges and experiences
  • Adapts their existing skills to new situations
  • Foresees future requirements and adjusts
  • Reflects and examines their performance
  • Stays positive when experiencing failure
  • Views issues from multiple perspectives
  • Invests time in upskilling themselves
  • Embraces new tools and technology
  • Uses negative feedback to improve
  • Experiments with new approaches
  • Requests feedback from others
  • Adds value through innovation
  • Challenges the status quo
  • Asks questions

Prompt Questions to Help You Think of Examples of Your Willingness to Learn New Knowledge and Skills

To further help you think of examples, here are some prompt questions:

  • When have you needed to change your approach to a task or project? What action did you take, and what was the result?
  • Have you asked for feedback at work? Why did you ask and what action to you take in response?
  • Have you ever made a mistake at work? What was the mistake and what did you learn from it?
  • Is there a time when you had to perform a task for the first time? What did you learn?
  • When has a project you have been working on not gone to plan? What did you do?
  • Have you completed any additional training or education?
  • Have you ever learned your way out of a problem?
  • When have you volunteered to take on a task?
  • Have you needed to learn new technology?

How To Use Your Examples in Your Resume

To incorporate your examples within your resume, use an achievement story. The most common and easiest formula for writing an achievement story is: Accomplished (X) by doing (Z)

When writing your achievement stories, keep in mind the above qualities and indicators of learning agility and incorporate them within your examples. For additional advice on writing achievement stories and examples, see: Achievement Stories

In addition to including your examples in your resume, you should list all your education, courses, and professional development activities. Also, make sure you include any volunteer work. Similarly, consider listing your hobbies. Especially those that demonstrate you are up for a big challenge! These items will confirm your willingness to seek new experiences and learn.

Related: Guidelines for a Good Resume

How To Use Your Examples in Your Key Selection Criteria (or Cover Letter)

You may be required to address key selection criteria as part of your application. This is often the case for roles within the Australian public sector. To be considered for an interview, you will need to provide a specific example of your success for each essential skill.  

Again, to demonstrate your willingness to learn, you need an example of when you have done so in the past. These can be the same examples you used for your resume. However, in your key selection criteria response, you will be expanding on the detail provided.

Your example should be specific and provided in the STAR format (Situation, Task, Action and Result). That is, you should explain in your response, firstly, the situation, giving context. Key details include the position you were performing at the time and any challenges or unique circumstances. Provide also a description of your task or accountabilities. In other words, what was your role, what were you required to do, and was there any challenges to overcome?

Then, set out your actions. What did you do to achieve the task? What steps did you take to overcome the challenges? Finally, you should describe your results. What did you accomplish? What was the outcome or benefit achieved? Consider also the evidence you can provide to support these results.

STAR Interview Method
S = Situation: Briefly describe the situation to give the interviewer context. T = Task: Describe what needed to be done to address the situation and what your role and responsibilities were. A = Action: Describe what you did and how you did it. R = Results: Describe the outcome, what happened as a result of your actions.
What if I don’t have a specific example?

Your response will be much more persuasive if you use a specific example. Remember, you can also use examples from your studies and volunteer work. If you have not experienced a specific situation, provide an answer that relates as closely as possible. Give a ‘what if’ response. Consider what you would do if given a new task to complete. What steps would you take to get started and ensure you performed at your best?

How To Use Your Examples at Interview

At the interview, your learning agility will be assessed through open-ended questions designed to allow you to provide examples of your previous success. The prompt questions provided above will be good practice questions.

For example, you may be asked, ‘Describe a time when you had to do something you have never done before. How did you feel about it? How did you go about it? Did you learn anything during this process?’  You should provide a specific example and structure your response using the STAR method when answering these interview questions. Again, as a last resort, if you can not think of a specific example, let the interviewer know what you would do in that situation.

In addition to providing examples of your past success, at the interview, you should demonstrate your curiosity and motivation by asking relevant questions. Don’t ask questions you should know the answer to or have found out in your research before the interview. Build on what you know and your research and ask meaningful questions

Similar Articles

Here are some similar articles that break down how you can demonstrate key soft skills on your resume

Attention to Detail
Problem Solving
Working Independently

Need Additional Help?

Writing about yourself and making sense of the conflicting advice online is hard. If you need help writing your resume, I can help. A Resume Writer for ten years, I create you a  well-written, persuasive, and authentic resume. For more information, see Resume Writing Services

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