Staying Competitive in Your Self-Storage Career: Investing in Skills and Re-Education
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
Posted on: 07/22/2013


By Marty Martin

Today’s job market is changing at an incredibly fast pace. To stay competitive, safeguard your career and ensure you can always find new work in the future, you should be continually updating your knowledge and skills.

For many, 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 haven’t 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 self-storage managerial 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

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.

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?

Once you’re aware of what new skills you need to stay relevant in the current and future work world, as well as what your strengths and weaknesses are, you can figure out the ideal way to position yourself so you stand out from the competition.  

Leverage Your Strengths to Address Your Weaknesses

While you do want to work on your weaknesses that may be career-killers, you don’t have to work on every weakness. For example, suppose you determine that one of your weaknesses is a lack of attention to detail. Whether you work on that depends on your industry. If you’re a trainer and you have a couple of misspellings on a slide, it’s not a big issue. But if you’re writing an opinion for a judge, detailing a contract or are in the nuclear-power industry, a lack of attention to detail is a big issue you need to correct.

After you address the career-killer weaknesses, spend the rest of your time and resources leveraging and improving upon your strengths rather than addressing every weakness. When you build on your strengths and focus your re-training on those areas, you’ll increase your unique selling advantage and be more in demand in your field.

Create an Action Plan

After you assess what skills and knowledge you’re missing, and which strengths or weaknesses you want to build upon, create a 30-day, 90-day and annual action plan to get the training and education you need. What do you need to continue advancing on your career path? It may be to enroll in a certificate program, take the lead on a project or do some volunteer work to gain new skills. Whatever it is, schedule the steps in a planner and take action.

Then re-check your plan every 30 days. This enables you to increase your level of accountability. Additionally, if you do a check-in every 30 days, you will see progress. If you see progress—even small progress—you’ll keep going. By the 90-day mark, you’ll see some significant change. So while your long-term vision that’s a year or more out might be a giant leap in skill advancement, the shorter term goals that are 30 and 90 days out are generally more manageable. Since most people can manage 30 days better than a year, the chances of you accomplishing multiple smaller goals that lead to a big goal is higher than if you just dangle that big goal out there with no mini steps along the way.

Finally, don’t keep your training and skills-attainment goals to yourself. Share your plans with others such as a spouse, boss, co-worker or business coach. When you have other people who care asking you questions about your progress, you’re more apt to stay the course. Use these people as sounding boards for tough decisions and motivation when things get rough. Even if you’re good at self-accountability, still engage others. Accountability is the key to sticking to a re-training path. The more people holding you accountable, the better.

Commit to Lifelong Learning

While learning something new may seem like a daunting task, remember you’ve been learning ever since you were born. When you embrace the fact that learning is something you do continually, either formally or informally, you’ll always have the skills you need to succeed in the future and learning won’t feel like a monumental task.

Commit at least three hours per week to updating your skills and refining your knowledge. That’s the surest path to stay competitive in the job market and ensure you thrive in your self-storage career.

Dr. Marty Martin is the director of the Health Sector Management MBA concentration and an associate professor in the College of Commerce at DePaul University in Chicago. His second book, “Taming Disruptive Behavior,” is now available, and he’s currently working on his third book, “Do You Have Career Insurance?” For more information, visit .