Today's competitive job market requires working professionals and job seekers to anticipate the impact that advancing technology will have on their areas of interest, and to broaden their skill sets.
Educate YourselfThe good news is that available resources for educating yourself and sharpening your skills are steadily increasing. Employers are investing in education programs and development tools to "up-skill" employees, boost productivity, and attract and retain talent.*
If your employer offers an option to enroll in job-related courses, and/or has a training and development program, ask your manager if it's possible for you to participate, and whether the organization would consider paying for you to attend. Devoting your time and attention toward developing your professional knowledge could prepare you for new opportunities and lead to growth in your career.
If you're currently seeking employment, find ways to build up your resume. For example, take an online course in your area of concentration or start an industry-related blog. Be sure to update your resume with new skills you've acquired. More importantly, be ready to demonstrate how you've applied any newly acquired skills, or intend to apply them, to your professional experience.
"If your employer offers training, don't wait to be asked whether you're interested in taking a course," says Tish Cash, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Mutual of America. "Ask your supervisor if you can participate, and be prepared to explain how learning a new skill would benefit you and your department. Requesting professional training doesn't guarantee you a spot in a class, but you can always ask."
If employer-sponsored education isn't available to you, or if your resources are limited, consider alternatives such as free online courses.
"Once you've mastered a new skill, prepare to show how you'll put it into practice," adds Cash.
This applies to skills you can use in your current position, as well as to transferrable skills. If your employer sees that you're growing professionally, it will be easier to recognize new areas where you can contribute.
Pay Yourself As you continue to shape your career, it's crucial to keep in mind the opportunities available to you to prepare for your financial future. Contribute to your company-sponsored retirement plan as much as possible, so that you can grow your savings and build a nest egg. Gradually, work toward increasing your annual contributions. If this is challenging at first, try an initial increase of at least one percent so that you don't feel as much difference in your paycheck.
Also, some employers will match a certain percentage of your contributions, up to a specific level of your salary. That's similar to getting a raise as an incentive for saving for retirement. Find out whether a company match is available to you and, if so, consider taking full advantage of it.
Consistently looking to expand your professional skill set and keeping an active interest in maximizing your retirement plan contributions are different pursuits with a common goal: strengthening your future. Explore both avenues, and invest in yourself.
* ManpowerGroup 2018 Talent Shortage.
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