For many professional adults, there’s a stigma attached to hiring a “tutor”.
Those same professionals won’t balk at talk of a “mentor” or “career coach”, but a tutor? No way. Tutors are for students. Worse, tutors are for students who are falling behind.
This thinking prevents people from getting ahead.
Mentor, Coach, or Tutor?
Just like smart students, smart professionals use outside educational resources. A mentor or coach will help you with general career tips, but a tutor will help you with valuable job skills (aka job skills that will get you a raise).
Everyone loves a shortcut, but the single best (honest) way to get hired, make more money, earn a promotion, successfully navigate a career change, or whatever other big move you have planned next is to legitimately have the skills to perform in your new role.
Upskilling Should Start Now
The infamous catch-22 of starting a career – you need experience to get a job but you need a job to get experience – comes back in a sneakier and more pernicious form later: in order to qualify for a promotion, you have to already have the skills required in the more senior position.
Problem is, where do you build those important job skills that boost earning potential, or provide you with concrete, necessary skills to move up the ladder?
You guessed it. A tutor. They’re not just for kids.
You don’t even have to call them your tutor. You can call them your coach. Or friend. Or you can both even pretend to not know each other in public. But one thing is certain: they can help.
Further down, we’ll discuss specific high-paying skills to learn with a tutor, but first, let’s address the two primary objectives for learning new skills in general.
Increase Earning Potential
Earning potential is a somewhat misleading term.
It is far from a measurement of your actual human potential to earn money, as determined by, say, your genetics, upbringing, luck, astrological sign, or whatever else. You have in theory the potential to do just about anything.
Instead, “earning potential” refers rather narrowly to your perceived worth based on what you can show on paper that you know how to do.
Again: on paper.
The rule is: high income jobs pay for credentials, stay for performance.
If you’re in financial services, you already know the importance of the FINRA examinations like the Series 7, or if you’re in programming you know the merits of writing code in a few different popular languages.
But, if you’re in tech, did you know a PMP (Product Management Professional) certificate can increase your earning potential by $20,000 per year? If you’re in marketing, have you considered how even basic design skills can increase your value?
Here’s the thing. These tests and certifications are hard. Working with an expert tutor to master the material (beyond what may be available in a course) can help identify blind spots and bring the subjects to life, granting you expertise, rather than just qualification.
Tutors are experts at presenting information in a personalized way for each student. Even just a few sessions can do wonders for clarifying important points or getting you ready for aspects of the tests you may not anticipate.
If there’s no certification available in the skill you want to add, a tutor can still help you with upskilling by building knowledge of high income skills like data analytics, SEO, Microsoft Excel, budgeting, and more.
Now let’s say your boss’s job doesn’t look any better than yours. And your boss’s boss. Maybe a career change is in order.
Consider as well that your role may well evolve substantially over time due to new technological development or business trends, and you may find yourself reskilling just in order to stay on top of your current role.
Now, the same types of concrete skills you wanted to develop to get a raise will now take on even greater significance since you need to prove that you’re capable of succeeding in a new field or new version of your role.
“The rule is: high income jobs pay for credentials, stay for performance.”
In this situation, though, you’re starting out with with even less familiarity the material. One of the most difficult periods in any learning venture is the initial introduction to a new subject, when chaotic terminology and jargon buzz around like bees and you have no way of evaluating the legitimacy of new information you receive on a subject.
Perhaps even more so than when advancing existing skills, tutoring can streamline and simplify your entry into a new skillset required for a career change. By familiarizing you with the basics in a more efficient manner than working on your own, a tutor unlocks your ability to proceed through a new subject independently.
Some Skills a Tutor Can Help You With
Boiled down, a tutor is a personal instructor whose role it is to strengthen your weak areas, help you identify them in the first place, and help position you for success. With regard to your career, a tutor’s help is priceless for three important skills:
Good writing will change the game for you. Most jobs will list “Excellent Written and Verbal Communication Skills” (as in literally somehow that exact phrase every time) as one of the requirements. Others will task you with specific writing responsibilities.
But even when writing is not an explicit requirement, it will make a huge difference in the way you’re perceived at every phase of the job cycle.
- When you’re applying, a strong cover letter than gives some context to your background and interest in the firm can help you not only stand out from other applicants, but also highlight what you uniquely bring to the table and set the stage to build on those strengths in an interview.
- Once you’re hired, strong writing makes for strong performance since you’ll communicate more easily with teammates. Bonus: communicating clearly in writing will probably save you a few meetings.
- When it’s time to move on, you’ll find that you’re able to better retain contact with past coworkers who will still be valuable to you as your progress through your career.
The thing about writing is that everyone thinks they can do it.
Technically, they’re not wrong. Basically every single working adult in the developed world today knows how to “write”, as in, type or draw a series of letters that form a series of words that form sentences that convey some form of content.
To be frank, though, most business writing is very bad.
It almost seems like the more confidence people have in their writing, the worse it is. With overconfidence comes wordiness and grandiose sentence structures. With overconfidence comes clichés, buzzwords, and trite platitudes that sound nice but don’t really communicate anything at all.
The point of writing is to communicate. As in, you say something and someone else understands it.
Many professionals completely forget about the “someone else understands it” part.
Writing is hard because you have to understand how your words appear to someone else. A tutor can help you with this in two ways.
First, a tutor can introduce you to techniques, like how to write effective introductory or transition sentences or how to sequence ideas.
Second, a tutor can also serve as a valuable source of feedback. Trial and error is a great way to learn, but you need to know when you’re making errors so you can “trial” something else.
Another evergreen skill for marketing yourself, making an impression, and qualifying for high income jobs is good presentation skills.
The mirror is a good start, and you may well be your toughest critic, but a tutor can help you here too. You’d be amazed how many former college debate champions, keynote presenters, and other trained speakers are available for one-on-one tutoring in this space.
Even if your writing skills are already up to par (if they’re not, jump back to the last section), a public speaking tutor can help you nail big presentations, a highly sought-after skill that also happens to be the greatest fear of a sizeable chunk of the general population.
A tutor in this area will help you with more than general pointers: they’ll help you with specific techniques like cadence and organization, plus give you drills to mentally prepare for the room.
Like writing, public speaking skills also radiate in other areas. Confidence with crowds translates to personal interactions, making you more charismatic, likeable, and effective at making new connections and closing deals.
This admittedly covers an especially wide range of activities, but if a job requires analytical skills, there’s not a lot you can do that will help you more than studying statistics and data analysis.
It’s easy enough to recognize obvious trends in a group of numbers, but if it was simple, there wouldn’t be much demand for good quants, would there?
The value in quantitative skills comes from two primary places.
Knowing what to look for: To some extent, this knowledge comes from experience in your field, yes, but you can make up for a lack of seniority by understanding how different forms of numerical analysis relate to one another. When, for example, is finding the average of a data set more beneficial? When is finding the median? The mode? (Your pre-algebra teacher is softly shaking her head right now).
Understanding statistical significance: The universal standard is data outside two standard deviations from the mean, but the reliability of that mean and standard deviation can vary substantially in real world contexts.
A quantitative tutor can teach you the theory underlying these considerations first before familiarizing you with problems and examples to see how they play out in a real world context.
As you try out techniques and formulas, a tutor remains valuable because he or she can help you untangle the knot when something goes wrong. One of the toughest parts about these jobs is identifying where something actually went wrong. Much better a tutor help you work through it step by step than your boss.
We discussed earlier the role of a tutor in securing licenses and passing certification exams, but a tutor can also train you in the actual underlying processes for the jobs that these certifications prepare you for.
Corporate training can vary substantially in quality. The way you use a particular skill in one job may not reflect its use in another role. You may believe you know your subject inside and out, but talk to others with similar responsibilities to learn how they do things. You may be surprised at the differences.
In terms of bridging those gaps, networking and learning from colleagues will certainly help, but to dig deeper and build a richer expertise, consider talking to a tutor trained to help you.
What’s Your Next Step?
Honestly, we’ve really only scratched the surface of what tutoring can do for professionals. Call it whatever you want, but if you want to know how to earn more money, consider tutoring or other professional career development.