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When we set out to learn a new skill, or indeed teach a new skill, it is helpful to know that there are a number of predictable stages that we will go through so that we can manage ourselves or support others to achieve their outcome.  One model that explains this is the Conscious Competence Ladder also known as the Learning Ladder.  This model explains the stages by which we learn and ultimately acquire a new skill.  You can benefit from understanding this model by being able to figure out where you are in the learning process and what you can do to improve.  


The Learning Ladder focuses on the interplay between awareness and competence.  The most important thing to remember from this model is that feeling like you have no idea what you are doing in the beginning is perfectly fine.  When you eventually start realizing you are making a lot of mistakes, that is not a bad thing either. Instead, these are both predictable and necessary stages of learning, that you go though as you slowly improve your abilities. 


There are 4 stages of the Learning Ladder and this can be applied to virtually all learning scenarios.


1. Unconsciously Incompetent  

You may have heard the saying “The beginning of wisdom, is to know that you know nothing”.  This is the first stage of competence development that everyone goes through. This stage is where we don’t know what we don’t know.   We don’t know that we don’t have certain skills or that there is something we need to learn.  We are not even aware that we cannot do something.  This is a state of blissful ignorance. In order to move on to the next stage of the ladder, a person must recognise their own incompetence and the value of the new skill. 

2. Conscious Incompetence 

The next stage can feel uncomfortable, we have gone from blissful ignorance to now being aware of the need to learn.  This is where we know what we don’t know.  We know that we don’t have the skill.  We know that we can’t do something and we know that we are no good at it. This is a state where we may not care or it may be a state of motivation to learn a new skill.  This awareness and understanding that you don’t know something is excellent because you now work out “How do I learn this skill?”.   It is in this stage, the learning can begin and making mistakes can be integral to the learning process.



3. Conscious Competence 

At this stage, we understand or know how to do something.  We know what we know. We know that we have acquired the skills and knowledge we need.  With regular practice confidence builds. We can now perform the task but we have to really think about it. This is a state of concentration and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill. At this stage, it is important to remind ourselves of how far we have come in developing the skill.  We will need support to help us to develop the skill. Otherwise, we may give up and fall back to the state of conscious incompetence.  

    4. Unconscious Competence 

    The fourth stage is where we are able to use our new skills effortlessly, and to perform tasks without conscious effort.  This is a level of mastery, the new skill has been integrated and has become a habit.  We know that we can do it and we can do it without thinking too hard about it. We have had so much practice with a skill that is has become “second nature” and can be performed easily.  This is when we no longer have to think about the skill.  We don’t know that we have this skill as it now seems easy. 


    An example that demonstrates the Learning Ladder is: think of how you learnt to ride a bike. 

    Unconsciously Incompetent: First of all you did not know that you could not do it.

    Conscious Incompetence: Then you fell off and knew that you couldn’t do it.

    Conscious Competence: Then you really had to concentrate, but you could just about stay upright with stabilisers.

    Unconscious Competence : Then you took the stabilisers off and could do it without even thinking about it.


    The next time you are learning a new skill, see if you can identify the four stages of this learning model. I hope you enjoyed reading this article and feel free to share this article with anyone you feel might benefit from it.


    Creating a CV that highlights your skills and experience effectively is the first step you need to take when looking for a new job.  The purpose of any CV is to get you invited for an interview.  If you have submitted your CV to lots of jobs (that you have the experience for), but you have not been invited for interview, your CV is the issue and it needs some work. 


    Your CV has roughly 12 seconds to make a positive impression.  It is important that the layout and content of your CV is easy to read and understand within a short timeframe.   In this article, I will outline some simple tips on how to create a CV that makes a positive impact.  


    Tips to create a CV that makes an impact  

    CV Layout

    Regardless of the amount of experience that you have gained over the past number of years, your CV should be a maximum of 2 pages long.  Any CV that is longer than 2 pages will reduce your chances of your CV doing its job i.e. getting you invited for interviews.  It is quality over quantity when it comes to CV writing.  When you are writing your CV, consider if the information will increase or decrease the chances of your CV doing its job?


    Professional Photograph

    There is no need to include a professional photograph on your CV if you are applying for jobs in Ireland.  Including a professional photograph does not add value to your CV and it takes up valuable space.  However, the requirements are slightly different if you are applying for jobs in a European Country so include a professional photograph on those applications. 


    Reverse Chronological Order

    The content of your CV should be presented in reverse chronological order, starting with the current and most recent work experience and working backwards.  Presenting your CV content in this format highlights your career growth and development, it emphasises the most recent jobs that you held and it is easy for the reader to understand if and when there were any career gaps.  In relation to the education content, you have a choice to either highlight this information in reverse chronological order or you can highlight the most relevant education for the job you are applying for first.  It is a personal preference but both options are accepted.


    Relevant to the Job

    One of the biggest mistakes jobseekers make when they are applying for jobs is that they submit a generic CV to lots of jobs.  This is a recipe for failure.  In order to avoid this error, spend time updating your CV for the job that you would like to apply for.  This will take time but it is time well spent, as this will increase your chances of being invited for interview.  It is much better to apply for less jobs and to spend the time updating your CV for those jobs, than to send a generic CV to lots of jobs.


    Grammar and Spelling  

    Once you have created a CV that is relevant for the job you want to apply for, check your grammar and spelling before you submit your CV for any job application.  It is easy to oversee these errors when you are creating a CV, but it will be the first thing the reader will spot immediately.  Perhaps even get a family member or friend to double check your CV for these errors. 


    Once you have been invited for an interview, your CV has done its job.  It will then be up to you, to sell your skills and experience effectively during the interview in order to get a job offer. 


    I hope you enjoyed reading this article and that you have gained some tips on how to create a CV that makes a positive impact.  Please share this article with anyone who might benefit from it. 

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