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.