[Image from https://pixabay.com]
The idea of remaining relevant makes me think of popular brands and how they’ve continued to effectively market themselves and carry their credibility for long periods of time. Take for instance McDonalds and how they’ve improved their menu over time. When I was a kid I’d beg my parents to roll through the Golden Arches for a dinner treat. Back then there were limited menu items…burgers, chicken nuggets, fake ribs (no shade Mickey D’s). I’m probably missing a few items but over all I think it’s safe to say there were very few healthy items. And the milk in the McFlurry doesn’t count. But if you look at the menu today, there’s a variety…salads, yogurt, apples (minus the sugary caramel sauce). Now imagine if McDonalds never improved their brand with these healthier alternatives. They’d probably still be in business because hello, they’re McDonalds! But would they be suffering next to the competition? Would they have become “that unhealthy fast food place down the street”? Perhaps. So I’m sure that keeping up with the times which have displayed healthier diets and cleaner food options did great things for their brand.
Think of your career the same way. If you remain stagnant by not updating your skills or taking on new projects and possibilities, perhaps you’ll find yourself to be “that worker in the cubical down the hall”.
Let’s say you’re comfortable with your job and you aren’t really worried about the next step. Maybe you consider yourself to be as relevant as you need to be. And being “that worker in the cubical down the hall” makes you happy. Well that’s great but why wait until when you want to get that promotion or find a new job to try to step it up? Look at it this way…
You may be sought out before you have to do the seeking.
If you keep up your skills now, you may find yourself in this position. Perhaps that recruiter or future employer is secretly scoping you out on Linked In. Or maybe one of the higher ups in your own company sees how your new skill set can be an asset in a promotional role.
It will build your confidence.
Learning a new skill may get frustrating at times. The learning curve can take a toll on the best of us. But once you master that skill, it’s a great feeling. Take for instance, learning a new computer system. And those can be challenging. At one of my previous jobs I came in with a very basic knowledge of the computer program I used daily. Eventually I grew my skill set to the next level by learning how to run reports and complete other tasks on the system that weren’t required but proved to be very helpful. I was feeling like the [wo]man when I walked through. (Hip hop reference.) In other words, it boosted my confidence level in the workplace. 🙂
So right about now you’re probably thinking “sounds great but how do I learn?”. Or “when will I have the time to learn?”. Glad you asked…
Seek out professional development opportunities.
Most companies should have a budget for employee’s participation in professional development. Never hurts to check the specifics for your own company. I once shared with one of my former supervisors that I wanted to become an “expert” at Excel. He suggested that I use the online learning system Lynda which the company had a full library of materials on. And I see that Linked In is now offering a free trial. Definitely worth checking out especially if it’s hard to get away from the office. But if you can get away, conferences are always great. In addition to the knowledge you gain, there are so many networking opportunities. And who could refuse a day away from the desk?!
Ask a friend who is knowledgeable.
Another Excel example. (Guess I’ve come a long way with Excel over the years.) At the time that I was trying to learn more in Excel, I had a co-worker buddy that was a little more advanced than me. I remember her talking to me at my desk one day while I thought I was putting my best effort into completing a spreadsheet. She looked over my shoulder and said with no hesitation “Why are you doing it that way goofball?!”. She then proceeded to show me a short cut. (If you’re reading this, yes you called me that. But it was in a very loving way. 😉 ) Since that day I would email her or shout into the office (because it was only 2 feet away…right, sad) when I needed help.
This method has been the story of my life these last few months. They don’t exactly have blog school for me to learn every single aspect of blogging. And even if they did, I’m not exactly in the market to tack on more student loans right now. (That’s a whole separate post.) One self-taught class I love to hate is Photo Shop 101. Photo Shop can produce so much for those like myself with creative ventures. But it comes with its complexities. Despite, I force myself through because it’s a great tool for my brand and would look great on a resume. In the meantime, “p” is for Photo Shop AND patience. Because the two are needed together!
The list could go on with this topic! So feel free to let me know if you’d be interested in a part 2. And as always, if you have any tips that are helpful, feel free to share in the comments. 🙂