Ten Ideas for Keeping Your Skills Transferable and Broadening Your Career Options

by Robinson, Andy Tuesday, December 08, 2009
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I read an interesting article in the New York Times discussing a situation faced by all too many laid-off employees -- having been in an specific job area or industry area for a number of years developing a set of skills that end up being limited in terms of transferability or "usability" in a new job or new career. Many of these individuals find themselves unable to land a new job, sometimes being unemployed for extended periods of time. This situation CAN be prevented or at least significantly mitigated with proper planning and foresight. ARE YOUR SKILLS TRANSFERABLE? Are you significantly limiting the options that might be available to you should you lose your job or decide to change jobs?

Consider the following 10 IDEAS to help you develop and implement a plan for maximizing the transferability of the skills you develop while employed:

Plan ahead; anticipate -- Recognize the possibility that you may be developing and deploying a set of skills that are limited in terms of their transferability. KNOW that employment changes -- layoffs, downsizings, acquisition-related reorganizations, etc. -- are common. Be prepared.

Inventory your strengths now and identify the ones that WOULD BE transferable. Focus on developing and strengthening those that are more likely to be transferable.

Broaden the scope of what you do on a day-to-day basis. Look for ways to expand your work duties. Volunteer for assignments and projects that expose you to new skill areas. Make this idea an ongoing part of your career development.

Become an expert in an area that transcends industry sector and is highly likely to be in high demand in the market place. Write about the latest thinking in this area; blog about it; talk about it; brand yourself as a "go to" resource in this area.

Nurture and expand your network reach -- strengthen the breadth and depth of your business and professional network. Use your network as an "R&D" source for identifying trends and areas of development that you should strengthen.

Obtain transferable skills outside of your job -- get involved in outside organizations and seek opportunities to develop new skills or strengthen those you have that are transferable.

Incorporate emerging "tangential" skills INTO your day-to-day job. Become a resident expert in a process, methodology or tool that you see as an emerging skill that might become in high demand. Could be a software application, a social media application, some area of new technology that you believe may become "hot" or in sustainable demand.

Take advantage of all training and learning opportunities available. Enroll or volunteer for training courses in areas you believe will be in demand. Be proactive about "managing" your professional development.

Focus on obtaining certifications, licenses or other credentials for which their might be broad-based demand.

Go back to school NOW -- Attend evening courses, weekend courses or enroll in "executive MBA" type programs.

You don't want to wake up one morning and discover that although you are GREAT AT SOMETHING -- that "something" has limited use and does not position you adequately for future career options.

Plan, prepare, be proactive...stay ahead of the curve and be ready for the unexpected.