Backing-up Your Core Skills and Staying Relevant with Technical Abilities
An increasing number of jobs require technical knowledge and abilities. For most jobs, you already need to know your way around a computer and how to use basic applications, not to mention the Internet. But, you also should know how to use applications or technologies related specifically to your profession and keep your level of competence with these tools up-to-date.
Chances are good that, over time (even just five years), your profession and your industry will change and new technical skills will come along that you will be required to learn. Remember when social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn started popping up almost 10 years ago? Every marketing person around the globe saw this as the game-changer it was and realized they had to learn to use this new media channel to promote their companies and clients. The rest of us recognized the need (from a career standpoint) to learn about social media for making connections and networking.
So, how do you back up your core skills and stay relevant with technical abilities? First, there are technical skills that are helpful to know and keep up-to-date to stay relevant in any job, such as creating spreadsheets, presentations and web conferencing. Here are steps you can take to ensure that you are on top of (and learning) the technologies being used and introduced in your industry.
Join and Become an Active Member of a Professional Association
Most occupations have national and local organizations dedicated to providing professional development for people in the field. Through membership in one or more of these organizations, you can find opportunities such as workshops and seminars to learn about the latest industry tools. By attending a professional association’s meetings and networking with other professionals in the group, you can become acquainted with the technologies others in the field are using.
Join a Company With Internal Professional Development Opportunities
If you are just starting out or in the early years of your career, it pays to look into employment with a company that is known for developing its people. This kind of company would enroll you in a program of continuous professional development that would not only help build the technical skills you need for your role, but even go beyond that and provide training that helps form the foundation for a successful career.
Continue Your Formal Education and Training
When new technologies or applications are introduced, there are usually training opportunities available to get everyone up-to-speed. Take advantage of local "after dark" continuing education courses or online workshops or courses (Lynda.com is a great resource). Also consider pursuing a certification, accreditation or other credentials in your field, as those programs will likely offer opportunities to learn about or get hands-on experience with new tools.
Research the Market
Perhaps the most popular technological tool in the workplace is the Internet, and one way you can stay up-to-date with it is by using it! You'll find many articles on workplace and industry technology trends and developments to increase efficiency and productivity. Conduct searches or visit industry websites regularly to stay on top of what's new and on the horizon.
Be Proactive – Get and Stay Tech-Savvy
Even if technology development doesn’t seem to be related to your current job or your company is not using the current tools, you want to stay well-informed on what’s new and keep your skills current. By doing so, you’ll ensure you don’t have to catch up if you decide to pursue a job with a new company or steer your career in another direction.
The steps above can help to ensure that you are “future-proofing” your career. When you have up-to-date knowledge of the technologies or applications available for performing your job, you will be able to maintain a competitive edge in the job market.
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