New Year, New Job Skills

new year job skillsBy Barbara Bellesi

A new year is upon us, and it's time to get serious about those career resolutions you've made. Is your current skill set where it needs to be to get the job you want? Consider these skills as you work to launch the 2012 edition of yourself.

Problem Solving

Pat Partridge, vice president and chief marketing officer at Western Governors University (WGU), asks the million-dollar question: "What are you going to be able to demonstrate once you have gotten the job?" He cites higher-order thinking and problem-solving abilities -- which just so happen to be incorporated into every online degree program at WGU -- as keys to keep impressing the boss after you get hired. Employers value staff members who can rise to challenges, so Partridge says to "think about all the inputs...weigh those challenges, and look at competing views."

Work on it: Problem solving is more than just "thinking outside of the box"; it's about channeling that creativity into a viable solution. "[It's] a process of juggling [the challenge] intellectually and arriving at a better synthesis," Partridge says.

Social Media

Even if you haven't exactly embraced Twitter and Facebook in your personal life, you need to recognize that community is king these days for many industries. Simply stated: Social media won't be dethroned any time soon.

Work on it: If you're a true newbie to using and analyzing social media, Mediabistro, an online resource network for media professionals, offers some excellent online courses and a social media certificate program that can get you up to speed quickly. But sometimes it's easier to learn it by studying what not to do. So hop on Twitter and observe how it practically blows up when someone makes a gaffe -- remember Ashton Kutcher's misinformed tweet about the Penn State scandal? Unfortunately, you won't have to scour the Internet for other faux pas.

"Soft" Skills

Here's the hard truth: "Soft skills" are vital to not only getting a job, but also to ensuring that it will be a pleasant experience. Vicki Salemi, author of Big Career in the Big City: Land a Job and Get a Life in New York, believes that when it comes to getting that coveted new job or promotion, the real question is, "Can you ace the lunch interview?"

"People want to hire people they like," Salemi says. She notes that a strong work ethic is always a plus in any industry, as is the ability to interact well with clients -- not to mention co-workers. Employers look for people who "are well rounded, but don't just keep their head down at the desk all day."

Work on it: How does one brush up on the proverbial water cooler talk? Network, network, network, advises Salemi. From industry cocktail parties to volunteer organizations, it's important to get out there and find like-minded people. Sure, Twitter chats and LinkedIn groups are one part of networking, but Salemi says, "It's also important to get out from behind your computer. Face time is important."

The Elevator Pitch

Consider yourself lucky if you can sum up your job with an "I'm a(n) ______" or "I work for _____" statement. But if your title or company is one that isn't easily recognizable to most people, you might need to work on summarizing your qualifications into a brief speech, commonly known as the elevator pitch. Literary agent Rachelle Gardner advises writers on her blog, though this tip is universal: "Keep in mind it takes roughly 30 seconds to deliver about 100 words, which is a nice length for an elevator pitch. Too much longer and you risk being convoluted and losing the attention of your audience."

Add to and improve your skills often. As Partridge says, "Employers who are looking for people who are promotable, not just employable."

Next: 5 Job-Hunter Tips Through The Holidays

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Twice I was offered a job in an elevator. I only took one.

December 18 2011 at 10:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

standing in line is a good exercise

December 18 2011 at 8:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Think of your elevator pitch as your chance to give a Best-Test. Tell one think you do best (one talent or skills), then as a testament, tell about a time you salved the day, solved the problem or served the clients. That kind of an answer will show your character and competence, will be easy for others to remember, and will attract the right kinds of work assignments and introductions. Lynne Waymo , CEO of Contacts Count, 301-589-8633

December 18 2011 at 7:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well if Obooboo has his way he will allow more and more Arabs into the country to vote for him. He has no concern over how many wives they have or the amount of kids they bare? They are votes for him and the extra wives and kids you will find on welfare paid for the the American People. What a goof ball we have in the White House, Dump the Chump in 2012

December 18 2011 at 12:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hman570's comment

our congress has removed the cap on work visas for idia and china....faces will change even more as they relace us in paying jobs

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