How to Keep Your Job Skills Current

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There are many factors involved in getting hired. Some are out of your control, but there are others that you can work on to enhance your hireability.

If you’re seeking a promotion at work or are looking to make a job change, taking the time to enhance your skills and your qualifications will make it much easier to take the next step up the career ladder.

Individuals who continually upgrade their skills to keep pace with developments in their field will have the best chance of doing well in their career, both with their current employer and when job searching. Here are 6 ways to keep your job skills current.

1. Check out the Most In-Demand Skills for Your Occupation

The first step in keeping your skills current is to identify the skills which employers value the most in your field. Review job titles for positions in your career field. Also review the top skills required by employers, both general and job-specific.

Search job sites like Indeed or Monster using phrases related to your job to get job titles most appropriate for your current job and any positions that you’d love to work at, if you could. Review job descriptions and make a list of the skills which employers are most often seeking in applicants.

2. Get the Scoop

Speak with human resources staff at your current employer to gain more insight into the most preferred skills for your profession. Analyze the background of standout performers at your employer or stars from your professional associations and identify any skills which have helped them to excel.

The descriptions within the LinkedIn profiles of high-level performers can provide insight, too. Note the skills which reference writers mention in LinkedIn recommendations for these individuals. Review the agendas for conferences and online workshops for your field to gain insight regarding other areas of knowledge or skills which people in your field are eager to acquire.

3. Make a Plan

Once you have identified your target skills, make a plan to strengthen or gain the most in-demand skills for your occupation. Professional associations offer workshops at annual and regional conferences and throughout the year. Many organizations have online tutorials or workshops. Review agendas and speak with leaders of those organizations to identify opportunities.

4. Attend a Workshop

Technology workshops or online tutorials are often offered by software providers and third-party groups. For example, there are free or low-cost online programming classes available.

Speak with IT professionals at your organization to determine what your employer offers and to get recommendations about other reputable learning providers. Many professional organizations will have a technology committee and the chair may also have some useful suggestions.

5. Go to School

In addition, check with local colleges and adult education programs since they will often offer courses or seminars to help employees to upgrade knowledge and skills. Check out certificate programs and online educational courses you can take to revamp your skill set quickly.

6. Volunteer

Volunteer to take on projects at work or volunteer at organizations where you can develop and apply the skills you’re working on. Your ultimate goal should be to be able to document your key skills when you want to land a new job, gain a promotion or justify a pay raise. Your volunteer work can be included on your resume just like paid work experience. 

Additional Tips on Updating Your Skills

Highlight Your Applicable Skills When Applying for Jobs: Be sure to reference your most relevant skills in your cover letters and resumes. It’s important that what you include in your job application materials is as close a match to the job as possible The closer a match you are, the better your chances of getting the job.

Start Over: Once you have done some or all of the above, start over. Keeping your skills current is an ongoing process. Technology is constantly changing, and your skills need to keep pace in order for you to be as marketable as possible.

If you plan on spending some time on a regular basis you'll be able to upgrade your skills without too much effort. It's easier to plan ahead than it is to scramble when you're job hunting and realize that you don't have the qualifications employers are seeking.