When Should You Update Your Job Skills?

by : Max Stein

With the U.S. economy still slumping and unemployment numbers barely moving forward, many workers may be considering what their employment future could be like if they were to lose their job. If you’re in a healthcare field, or possess computer skills, you don’t have much to worry about, except explaining why you left your last job. On the other hand, if you’re employed in production or manufacturing, you may be asking yourself, “when should I update my job skills?"

If you’re lucky enough to still have a job in this economy and you’re pondering the future, you should consider updating your job skills immediately. Your current education level will determine what you should update. If you already possess a Bachelor’s degree, examine what your skills deficits may be. For instance, are you up to date on computer programs commonly used in an office environment? If you want to make a move into healthcare, do you have medical terminology or CPR? Some states allow degree holders to get into teaching without having a related degree. Some may require a certificate. Your employer may even pay for your continuing education. Career colleges offer courses with flexible times so you can work and update your skills.

On the other hand, if you’re one of the over eight million people who is currently looking for full or part-time work and your job prospects are not very good, updating your skills could be very important to your future. Again, you should assess your current educational inventory. Consider the industry you’ve been in and see if it makes sense to change. There are a lot of openings in sales, healthcare and computer related industries. Federal or state aid may be available to you for educational purposes.

Finally, if you feel safe in your current job, create a strategy of cross-training. Make yourself so valuable to your employer, that even if the job you hold now is eliminated, you could easily move to another one within the company. Advancing your computer skills is one of the best ways to do this. Improving your sales skills is another. By creating added value to your employer, you put yourself far down the list to be trimmed.

The answer to when you should update your job skills is - always. Whether you need to update the computer programs you know or train for a completely new industry, your ability to adapt to change will help keep you employed, both now and in the future.

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