To stay competitive, invest in cutting edge skills
Today’s job market is changing at an incredibly fast pace. To stay competitive, to safeguard your career, and to ensure you can always find new work in the future, you need to be continually updating your knowledge and skills.
Of course, for many people, going back to school to further their education is the last thing they want to do. Some struggle with the structure, some don’t perceive any relevance to school, and some have not mastered the basic writing and quantitative skills needed to get to the more pragmatic topics. In other words, many people have excess “baggage” when it comes to upgrading their capabilities.
Realize, though, that investing in your skills doesn’t necessarily mean going back to a college classroom. From online courses, distance learning, and seminars to self-study, volunteer work, and on-the-job “stretch” assignments that add to your current capabilities, you have many options for getting out of your comfort zone and updating your skills.
When you’re ready to make yourself always employable and in-demand, use the following steps to begin the re-training and re-educating process.
Assess your strengths to determine your unique selling advantage (U.S.A.).
In today’s economy, no matter what your profession, you have to sell your knowledge, skills, and abilities to advance. That means you must have something unique that’s sellable. If your core skill sets are commodities, you won’t be able to command higher wages or fees. In other words, if hundreds of other people do exactly what you do, you’ll never stand out. You need to go beyond the commodity skills and make yourself unique.
For example, if you’re a college professor who does classroom teaching, you’re a commodity. However, if you also know how to design and administer online courses, then you have a unique skill. Or, if you’re a graphic designer who creates web sites, you’re a commodity. But if you create web sites that integrate the newest design and SEO practices, then you have a cutting edge skill.
Therefore, be brutally honest with yourself by answering the following questions:
- What does the future of your career look like?
- What new skills do others have that you do not?
- What are the skill deficiencies that are holding you back?
- What are you good at (your strengths)?
- What are you not-so-good at (your weaknesses)?
- What do you do (or what can you learn) that others don’t currently do or know?
- What skills are you missing that you are not willing to obtain now?
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