Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weathering the Storm: Skill Up During a Recession Without Going Broke

Look on any popular career site and you’ll likely find at least one article advising you to update your skills, thereby increasing your marketability, during tough economic times.

Many of these articles go on to recommend new academic degrees and/or certificate programs. This makes a lot of sense if the job or skill you are looking to obtain requires this or if you are looking to make a career change.

But what about those who wish to enhance what they can offer their current positions, or to make themselves more marketable within their chosen professions, and cannot afford the time away from their day jobs or the added expense of taking classes?

Opportunities to expand your horizons abound in many ways. Here are just a few:

  • Use networking tools at your disposal to seek tips and advice. These include Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn, among others. In addition to joining conversations with individuals in your field, you can also engage with forums, groups and associations on these sites.
  • Participate in your company's internal training program. Many offer online courses as an alternative. If your company doesn't offer formal education/training, don't let that stop you from learning. Reach out to someone at work who has the knowledge you desire. Afterward, pay it forward by training someone else.
  • Arrange a skill swap with friends/colleagues.
  • Research resources available through industry associations.
  • Peruse lecture notes, instructional videos, etc. online from colleges/universities that offer these materials for free, such as MIT OpenCourseware
  • Good old fashioned search is also very relevant. A lot can be gleaned from product reviews, blog posts, company literature, online news, etc.
  • Read about your topic, and then find someone (at work, online, in your network)--or better yet, a group of people--with whom you can discuss what you've read. Concepts gel much better this way, and you're likely to pick up new ideas by virtue of the conversation and collaboration.

Above all, approach the task with full intentions of enjoying the process. Remember what we learned in school as youngsters--learning can be fun.

1 comment:

Nicky Jameson said...

My additions:
Network offline as well as online.

1. Arrange to meet for a lunch or coffee or after work drink if you're in the same location.

2. Brush up on your speaking/presentation skills, by joining Toastmasters International. They meet during lunch and it's inexpensive, about $20-25 a meeting. Being able to add speaking to your skills (not to mention your resume) is a big plus. It also builds confidence.

Offer to speak at colleges, local community groups on weekends and evenings...they almost always need speakers and you get to practice.