In today’s work environment, your skills are the key to opening up job opportunities and promotions. The more diverse skills you have the more employment or business opportunities you create for yourself.
To successfully market yourself and open up doors for new opportunities that will benefit you economically, professionally and personally, you need to define your exiting skills and continually learn new skills that both benefit your growth and career success.
Whether you were laid off, decided to go it alone as a consultant or freelancer or even if you have remained in the corporate world, for the most part, you are still generally much on your own.
The perceived security of corporate paternalism has been replaced by a less defined more demanding relationship. Many of today’s workers are more like free agents in professional sports. Rather than working their way up a predetermined ladder of increasing power and better paying positions, many employees’ careers will consist of a series of moves from project to project, from employer to employer, or even from industry to industry. It is for this reason, workers must think of themselves as skilled merchants. When you look at yourself in this fashion it gives you more control over your own life. For example, rather than relying on your employer, you’re relying on yourself.
In today’s labor market there are hurdles employees will need to clear to successfully adapt to the changing labor market. If you have strongly identified yourself with your job throughout your career, you will need to come up with a new definition of who you are in the workplace. You will need to learn a new set of on-the-job priorities, aimed at expanding your expertise. Also, with the corporate ladder not as well defined as it use to be, you will need to find a new approach to career advancement.
Define your skill package
In the age of corporate loyalty, you were your job. In the age of skill merchant, when several jobs amount to a temporary project, such close identification is unhealthy for your psyche and unproductive for your career. The closer you tie your self-image to your job, the more you will feel its loss.
Today workers need to identify themselves as a package of skills rather than as a job description. Instead of viewing yourself, for example, as a marketing manager, you should consider yourself as a communications and marketing professional, specializing in consumer product introductions.
Analyze your package of skills and examine your history by compiling a comprehensive list of your achievements, both personal and professional. It is important to include the personal achievement, since you probably have valuable and salable skills you have not yet used on the job. For example, while you may not have had budgetary experience at work, you may have served as treasurer of a club or other type organization unrelated to work.
Once you have completed your list of skills, write a couple of paragraphs describing each achievement. After completing the descriptions, take a look at the verbs you used. Did you organize, negotiate, lead, sell, create, or coordinate something? These verbs are the clues to your skills. Make a list of all the verbs you used and look for recurring patterns. The information you list in this exercise can also serve as the basis of a new, skill-based resume.
In today’s work environment, those who are most marketable are those with the largest repertoire of skills. Also, a wide range of skills will make it easier for you to leap from business to business or industry to industry. Remember, most skills can be learned and those that learn them also demonstrate flexibility, another quality that is in great demand.
If you work for a company that offers in-house training programs or tuition reimbursement, you have a head start. If you are self-employed, the cost of outside courses in job-related skills can be tax-deductible. You can also join organizations and clubs that will help you develop expertise. For example, if you have no sales experience, volunteer as a fundraiser for a favorite charity.
How to repackage your expertise
Once you mastered a new skill, show it off. What good is it to have a new skill, if you are not going to put it to use. It’s like winning the lottery, but never using the money to benefit your needs. Therefore, put your new skills to work for you. Also, resolve that from now on, the chance to improve yourself will be just as coveted a reward as a bonus or a raise. Also, continue to keep your eyes open for new opportunities.
Workers today need to use their personal achievements as ammunition in making their case for new opportunities. For example, if your manager says you don’t have sales experience for the sales management job you been seeking, bring up your success in raising more than $900,000 for your local church. Expand on how hard you worked in coordinating the fundraising efforts and persuading both local businesses and individuals to donate funds for your church.
While your primary motivation for expanding your skills is to prepare yourself to move on to your next position, this does not mean you are being disloyal to your current employer. On the contrary, expanding your skills can be a real benefit to your employer, provided that your manager chooses to use them. However, you need to be alert and constantly preparing for your next project, whether it’s with your current company or industry or another.
Remember to take inventory of the skills you have and use them to seek out new opportunities. Also continue to learn new skills that will further enrich your growth professionally and personally.