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How to Keep Job Skills Current



It's a tough economy right now and certainly not the easiest time to find employment.

Take for instance, two close family members of mine. They are both well-educated and experienced in the film production industry. But six years ago, they moved from California to Oregon. This year, they moved back to California and are struggling immensely to find jobs in their arena. After four months, one of them finally found a starter position in administration in the industry but it is low-pay and his entire paycheck won't even cover their rent. And she found herself interviewing for a barista position the other day-discouraged that her Dream Job in the film industry is not yet to be found. I stress that they are very experienced in their arenas. But apparently six years out of state was detrimental to getting their Dream Jobs back-in spite of the networking and industry volunteering they are doing while there.

I encourage you to keep your job skills and networking current-even if you are gainfully employed and think you will be there forever. If this economy has taught us anything-it is that no job is truly secure. We've seen huge companies take losses and close and people with twenty years plus seniority kicked to the curb. Our economy and employment rates may improve-but no one else will watch your back better than you.

Although the biggest argument I hear against this is the lack of time to network, etc, I want to stress the priority of it to you. If the unthinkable happens, you will regret not finding the time to keep current. So make it a goal and invest some time in this now by:

1. Remain educated in your field. Don't hesitate to take continuing education workshops or even take classes toward an upper degree in your field. If the time comes, someone with current education is much more valuable than someone who hasn't continued their education in many years. Education, of course, will benefit you personally too.

2. Stay online. Odd, I know. But while you've likely been happily employed for the past several years, the job search has moved mostly online. Familiarize yourself with job listings, who is hiring in your industry and don't hesitate to look at the financials of public companies. Scour industry websites, newsletters and blogs. Learn as much as you can.

3. Improve your platform online. When a Twitter friend I know was laid off from his insurance position, he held over 50 "informational interviews" with various companies. Basically, he messaged us and asked for one to learn more about the companies we are with. Many of us gave him some time and due to this network, he has had several job offers. So dig up that old Twitter account and start making yourself valuable to your followers online. Already on Facebook or Linked In? Find friends in your industry and become a resource to them. Join the groups and answer questions when you can. Also consider other social sites in your industry.

4. Make some contacts. Remember that doctor you met at a conference last year? You still have his business card in your briefcase. Set aside a couple of hours each month to connect with people via email or phone, even if you just leave a voicemail. Or send them a card in the mail with your business card and thank them for the time they spent with you/class they taught, etc.

5. Stay technologically current. This can be difficult, but is important. You will be at an extreme disadvantage in future job searching if you don't use email, know how to navigate a website, can't use microsoft Excel etc. What's an iPad? Find out, if you don't know. For good technical advice, read some tech blogs and keep up with the changes in the industry. Also consider learning software specific to your industry.

6. Keep your resume and references current. Keep your resume on the computer and add to it as you increase your learning, skills and job duties. And remember that someone who was a reference when you were job searching six years ago may not remember you well today. Find current references who can and will give a glowing report.

Following these tips will serve you well when and if you need to find a new job. You will already be halfway to your goal.

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