The year was 2009. I was an overly confident (and incredibly ignorant) young man… And I was on a mission to kickstart my career and make a lot of money. Related:How 20 Seconds Of Insane Courage Got Me My Dream Job The results of my quest are both hilarious and embarrassing (you can click here to watch the 3-minute video with the full story)... And while I learned an incredibly valuable lesson from this experience, I nonetheless wasted an entire year of my life. I was burned out, had used up all my savings, was living with my parents, AND was completely miserable. So, what happened? And how can you avoid an equally horrific fate?
Whether you've just graduated from college, you're in the middle of your career, or you're in your 60s, competition for jobs is fierce. So, how can you stay relevant in today's job market?
Here are six ways to stay on top of your game...
1. Brand Up
If you want to market yourself effectively, you need to clearly understand how and where you add value. What skill sets and strengths do you have? What's the problem you solve? How do you solve it? Get very clear on what you have to offer and then start building your brand.
Once you understand how and where you add value, you need to build your brand—a marketing strategy for your business-of-one. Start building up your online presence, establish yourself as an expert in your field, and get your name out there. If people can't find you easily, it will be hard to stand out in a sea of talent.
2. Learn New TechnologyBigstock
This is one of the most important things you can do to stay relevant in today's job market. We live in a very tech-savvy world, and if you can't keep up, you risk falling behind the competition. Think about what technologies are used in your industry and take steps to familiarize yourself with them and learn how they work.
3. Look At Industry TrendsBigstock
What's happening in your industry? What needs aren't being fulfilled? Look at industry news and developments so you can get a clear idea of what areas will need talent. Then, set yourself up to fill those needs using your skill sets.
4. Grow Your Network
If you don't get yourself out there, no one will be able to recognize your value. Join professional groups, attend industry-related events, meet people working in your dream companies, find a mentor, and so on. Grow your network early and establish those relationships. They will help you if you need to find something new down the road.
5. Take Classes, Courses, And Workshops
The secret to staying relevant? Upskilling. You must constantly gain new, relevant skills in order to stay ahead of the curve. Look for weak areas in your skill sets and find ways to get educated or experienced. You can take classes online or on campus, attend workshops, volunteer, or even take on part-time jobs.
6. Think About Your Next StepBigstock
Even if you're in a job you absolutely love right now and have been there for years, you always want to be prepared. Things can change with the flip of the switch and you might be out of a job tomorrow. So, think about your next step. Even if you don't plan on leaving your current job right now, the earlier you get started, the easier it will be to get your foot in the door at another company if/when it comes time.
The key to staying relevant in an ever-changing job market (and in a recession!) is to always look for ways to improve your skills. Learn to embrace new experiences as opportunities to grow, both personally and professionally. By doing the above six things, you'll stay relevant in any industry, no matter how competitive.
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.
Communication skills have become more essential than ever. Many job postings and job descriptions have a requirement for strong communication skills. The key to communicating is being able to communicate effectively. All communication is not created equal—there is good communication and better communication. How do you rate yourself?
Communication can be verbal or written. When verbal, you can see facial expressions and body language to make sure you’re sharing and exchanging information effectively. If the other person gives you a confused look, you know to stop talking and maybe repeat/explain your statements to minimize any misunderstandings. You don’t have the luxury of a “do-over” with written communication—you need to get it right the first time. So, take the time to make sure your document’s message is clear.
3 Things To Consider For Effective Written Communications
Here are three things to consider for effective written communications:
1. The first thing you want to do is know your audience. Are you soliciting feedback from your customers, developing training materials for the employees, or writing an audit report to the board of directors? Or is the CEO/president posting a blog on social media? You want to tailor the information to the audience.
2. Level of formality (such as formal, business, conversational, or casual) which may coincide with who your audience is. The level of formality may depend on your relationship with the individual. Is the person your boss? Colleague? External customer? Personal friend?
3. Different document types lend themselves to different writing styles (such as expository, narrative, persuasive, or technical):
- User Manual – step-by-step procedures with screen prints
- Process Workflow – utilizing a Visio graphic because sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words
- Excel Pivot Table – a report summarizing large amounts of data that can be analyzed
- PowerPoint slideshow rotating on a flat-screen TV (e.g. in the HQ lobby welcoming guests) – short, bulleted info, and graphics so that the message can be viewed quickly
There are some best practices that typically apply regardless of the writing style:
- Spell out acronyms the first time; some acronyms have more than one definition.
- Be careful using technical jargon and slang.
- Use white space, which gives your eyes a break especially when there is a lot of dense text.
- Don’t write in all caps unless you’re emphasizing to make a point or “yelling.”
- Check for typos, punctuation, and grammar.
Resources & Tools
Invest in your personal development. Some resources/tools to help you with your written communication skills:
1. Microsoft Word has several built-in features such as:
- File 🡪 Options 🡪 Proofing lets you configure how you want Word to automate proofing your documents.
- Review 🡪 Editor to not only check items such as spelling, grammar, clarity, and conciseness, but also check the level of formality—formal, professional, or casual.
- Review 🡪 Check Accessibility to check how accessible your document is so that it’s inclusive.
2. There are multiple books you can purchase to improve your writing. I like The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White. I think it’s such a great resource that for years I’ve even given copies of the book to my teams.
3. Take a writing class either in-person or online. Even if you consider yourself to be a fairly good writer, classes can provide good reminders, and maybe you’ll pick up a couple of new points. For example, did you know that there are email etiquette best practices?
- Check with your organization’s training team to see what writing-related courses they offer.
- There are many online courses to develop your writing skills such as those on LinkedIn Learning.
When you’re done writing your document, re-read it to make sure it reads well. Depending on the importance of the message, maybe have someone else read it too. Being able to share and exchange written information effectively is fundamental for both your work and personal life.
For more information on the importance of written communications, follow me on LinkedIn!