5 Ways To Bring Your Job Skills Up-To-Date

update work skills remain employableBy Maryalene LaPonsie

With pink slips seeming to still lurk around every corner, many workers are anxious about their future job prospects. In fact, only 38 percent of workers expressed confidence in their ability to find a new job, according to the July Employee Confidence Index calculated by the SFN Group, a workforce solutions company. Additionally, only 59 percent of those surveyed were confident about their employer's future, which means the rest could be apprehensive about their job security.

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For these and other workers in a seemingly unstable labor market, having updated work skills is essential.

"The workplace is transforming... and fast," says Dave Roberts, a spokesman with the U.S. Department of Labor. "Very few employers are doing business the same way they did two years ago, let alone five or ten."

Because hiring managers often look for candidates who can contribute to a job from the very first day of employment, workers are starting to find it necessary to obtain up-to-date skills. This could be particularly true for older workers who find themselves competing against college grads with versatile skills and recent educational training.

"Nowadays, practically every industry revolves around current information," says Dr. Madeline Ann Lewis, president and CEO of the Deline Institute for Professional Development, a career coaching firm. "Never think that you know enough about any particular industry because even one day can bring about a change." 5 ways to make sure your skills are up to date

There are many ways you can make sure your skills are state of the art without committing to a full degree program.

1. Tap into online resources

One of the best ways to stay in-the-know is right at your fingertips. Subscribe to industry blogs for the latest trends and news in your field. There are also online webinars that provide more in-depth information and training opportunities. Keeping on top of industry news can be a good way to avoid being caught flat-footed in an interview when asked about an emerging trend.

"There is an amazing abundance of useful information on the Internet these days," Lewis says. "So much in fact, that it comes very close to being equally as effective as formal education."

2. Volunteer

You can also put your skills to use as a volunteer. This work looks good on the resume and provides networking and training opportunities. It can also be an excellent way if you are reentering the workforce to demonstrate your commitment and expertise. Christopher DesBarres, the owner of Help Unlimited, Inc., a money management firm that works with senior citizens, regularly hires retirees and working moms for his business and says volunteer work makes applicants stand out.

"Something that never fails to impress me is when applicants have done significant volunteer work that involves the skills they are trying to improve," he notes.

3. Complete a personal project

Another option that allows workers to brush up skills and demonstrate proficiency to employers is to complete a personal project. Not only can a personal project provide experience using new tools, it can create an item that can potentially be added to a work portfolio.

"For example, a graphic artist may create some pieces that are for their own personal use such as an ad for a garage sale, a brochure for their own business, or a flier for a family picnic," says Laura Allen, a Seattle-based career coach.

4. Conduct mock interviews

Conduct as many mock job interviews as possible to perfect your interviewing skills, according to Dr. Kevin Gazzara, senior partner of Magna Leadership Solutions, a coaching and leadership company. He also suggests that workers develop what he calls a Sustainable Competitive Advantage statement, or a brief summary that essentially pinpoints the benefits a job applicant brings to a company.

"Today it is a buyer's market for most jobs and there are more candidates than ever looking for work," he says. "Like the stock market, employers are not only investing in you for your current worth, but for your future potential value."

5. Enroll in continuing education

While informal training can be useful, there does come a time to enroll in that formal education program. However, workers should take their time to carefully evaluate a program in advance, according to Kellie Auld, a certified human resources professional and expert for Focus.com, a website that provides an open forum to share business expertise. She advises that people look into the ratings of educational facilities and ensure that their coursework will be recognized by hiring organizations.

"Formal education never hurts and I think we should all make 'life-long learning' part of our self improvement plans," she says.

For job seekers looking to stay ahead of the curve, these strategies provide a starting place for keeping skills updated. Employees looking for other ideas can network with those around them to see what they do to stay at the top of their game.


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Robert G


August 25 2011 at 3:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Here's another way to survive in the workplace--- stop whining, complaining, BS'ing,gossiping, and sitting on your fat lazy arse all day moaning about your boss, your salary, your benefits, and your personal issues. Otherwise, your boss might be tempted to fire your ass and hire an illegal immigrant who will work like a dog, mind his own business, respect his superiors, and keep his unwanted BS to himself all day for a fraction of the wages you are making.

August 25 2011 at 3:12 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

At the website Best Top Jobs, there are many jobs that you can choose from like being an accountant, sales engineer, customer service, customer service or claims adjuster. There are both entry level and skilled level positions listed and the website is free.

August 25 2011 at 3:00 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

be a rat and a brown nose... they are the people who go far at work..scum

August 25 2011 at 2:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Do we really want to work for these coporations until they bury us. Life long learning is great as long as we learn something in the process. There is more to life than being a consumer to these monolithic-mega coporations and as Americans we owe it to our children to remember that and strive for a better balance between work life and our commitment to our families.

August 25 2011 at 1:16 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply


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August 25 2011 at 12:52 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Best advice...always apologize for being White...Cheer for any non-white employees, mixed-race couples, queers, hippy activists and internationalization of the workforce.

August 25 2011 at 12:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to governorphil's comment

Governorphill, YOU are a borderline sick supremist for putting in the SAME CATEGORY things as --" being Non-white" and --things as being in a "mixed-race" couple with things that you call "queers".... This spiraling downward nation is NOT being helped w/attitudes as yours. Anyway, Be More Specific about what is a "Queer" in your "holier- than-Thou" eyes.
Is that an out-of-touch, non-social person ?
As for the record, at least I've been 6 years HAPPILY-MARRIED w/a White-European heritaged Hispanic woman . I'm a Black American.
I wonder who would want to be married to your dumb self.

August 25 2011 at 3:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Continuing educ is the way to go; keep learning and reinventing yourself!

August 25 2011 at 12:41 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

According to some recent news, the best way to be successful is to be MEAN.

August 25 2011 at 12:19 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Mr Leonardo

Also if you are an attractive, you can try modeling: http://eliteexposure.com/

August 25 2011 at 11:25 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mr Leonardo's comment

But what if I'm ugly...Is there a market for ugly stupid people to write insulting, unattractive copy in a serious jobs information blog ?

August 25 2011 at 1:23 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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