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3 Strategies to Prepare for Tomorrow’s Jobs
Dr. Mary Hawkins
Education Commentator

You wouldn’t walk into a tech company with your resume on a floppy disk and expect to get an interview.  However not all do’s and don’ts are so blatant.  Staying ahead and standing out in this job market requires effort.  You can do it by combining your accumulated knowledge and experience with current trends and business practices.   That is what lifelong learners do naturally.

From researching industry trends to see where the growth will take place to evaluating your own resume for areas of improvement, there are many opportunities to stay competitive in the workforce. Here are some best-practices to help you stay current for the jobs of today and prepare for the jobs of the future.

#1 Develop a complete skill set

It isn’t enough to have professional or technical skills and expertise.  Workers in every field are expected to possess what are commonly referred to as soft skills such as communication, problem-solving, critical thinking and the ability to work on teams.

The expanding global marketplace is also setting a precedent by seeking candidates who possess these soft skills to be effective in diverse cultural and political environments.

#2 Commit to lifelong learning

Learning does not end when you earn a degree.  The shelf life of knowledge is becoming shorter. People who continue to learn are aware of new trends and can position themselves to help organizations adapt in a changing world.  They become more valuable and will see the benefits of their actions. For some, continued education including certifications and additional degrees will be essential.

Others will need to be more self-directed and take advantage of corporate training or tutorials. Options to explore include:

  • Webinars or other virtual training
  • Conferences and workshops
  • Coursework in relevant topics

#3 Go where the growth is

If you are in a field that is declining or predicted to decline it would be irresponsible not to think about new avenues.  You may have to do some retraining or education, but you will also be able to leverage your existing knowledge and experience.  Industries and fields that did not exist 10 years ago are attracting employees from many spectrums.  A little research will give you a sense of how your skills fit and what additional skills and knowledge you need.

While it’s hard to quantify job growth in these emerging areas, e.g., social media, a September 2011 LA Times article cited 75 percent growth in positions from monster.com.  Cybersecurity has recently emerged as a major growth area in the National Security Industry. There are several sources to track job growth and predicted industry declines. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is one resource http://www.bls.gov/home.htm and regional placement agencies are another.

According to the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), “Well-trained and highly-skilled workers will be best positioned to secure high-wage jobs, thereby fueling American prosperity.” By ensuring you have the skills you need, committing to life-long learning, and going where the growth is, you are taking essential steps toward positioning yourself for the high-wage job you’re seeking.

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