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April 15, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Perfecting the art of ‘stealth training’ for new job skills

If you’re like most people who have clung to their job for fear of never finding a better one, you may be feeling the itch this year to try something new.

But what about switching careers? This usually means mastering a new set of skills that may not be transferable from your previous career track. You can take classes, but that often requires coursework that may be too expensive or time-consuming to complete while holding down a full-time job.

Fortunately, there are ways to get some “stealth training” without your boss finding out that you’re looking for work elsewhere.

Always ask first. Don’t assume that training for the skills you seek is not available. See if your boss has anything in the budget to pay for instruction. You would have to explain how these skills would help you in your current job or in solving a particular problem for the company. If the answer is yes, maybe that will be enough to make you happy right where you are.

Take on different assignments. If company-sponsored training isn’t in the cards, look at the specific needs of your company and see if there are any other assignments that are outside of your normal job description as a way to build experience. Again, these assignments would have to be done without interfering with your current position, so choose these queries carefully.

Volunteer your time. If you can’t afford to take a training course, see if other organizations in your desired field have some volunteer positions during evening hours or weekends. This kind of work can give you hands-on training, demonstrate your ability to be a self-starter and provide some extra accomplishments for your resume.

Take on a limited second job. This is a dangerous area, of course. You never want to let your current job suffer, and you certainly don’t want to do anything that directly competes with your employer, lest you expose yourself to termination or a lawsuit. But if you can carve out enough personal time to work on a blog, accept freelance assignments or do some consulting work in a different industry for a few months, you may be able to turn the extra effort into a new full-time position.

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at

More in Work Life Blog | Topics: career change, finding your passion, skills, training, volunteering

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Blog contributors

Randy Woods Writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Former contributors

Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.


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