While You Job-Hunt: Keep Your Skills Sharp

Is your resume representing the best, most current you? Jason*, a recent candidate, brought in two resumes emphasizing two completely different job paths–one for his current CSR skills and one for HR management work, which he had performed more than a decade ago. The recruiter interviewing Jason kindly advised him that the second resume could not be used at this point. When Jason insisted that she consider the HR resume, she explained that HR work involves ever-changing laws and compliance issues–for instance, the Obamacare situation that’s been evolving this past year. Jason understood, but was understandably discouraged that his skills had completely lost their edge.

Are your skills beginning to resemble a dinosaur? While you job-hunt, what, if anything, are you doing to keep your skills sharp? Kevin F., a fellow job seeker, advises that “a quick Google search can link you to a multitude of resources (many of which are free, or at little out-of-pocket cost) that can keep you ready to hit the ground running. If you can afford fees for certificates to prove you haven’t just been reigniting your ‘edgy’ clay-animation projects from high school (unless that’s your profession, no judgments here), all the better. EdX is one such resource. The education is free and, if your probably-tight-budget can be squeezed just a little bit more, most of the certificates are fairly inexpensive.”

What’s your target job? In Jason’s case, he really wanted to get back into HR management, but he needed a plan to reignite those skills. “Once you have identified your target skills,” recommends Alison Doyle of About.Com, “make a plan to strengthen or gain the most in-demand skills for your occupation. Professional associations offer workshops at annual and regional conferences and throughout the year. Many organizations have online tutorials or workshops. Review agendas and speak with leaders of those organizations to identify opportunities.” (Click here for all of Doyle’s tips.)

Going back to school is always another good way to keep your skills sharp. Personally, I’ve taken various courses at our local community college to update my computer skills, since the tech world continuously changes at a breakneck pace! You may also benefit from volunteering in an area where you can strengthen the specific skills you want to work on, suggests Doyle. Employers like to see volunteer work as well as paid work. And who knows, you may make a new friend along the way, or even a connection that will lead you to the job you really want.

Is your resume making you look outdated? Then target the skills you wanted to improve, establish a plan to update them, and work on it while you job-hunt. Keep your skills sharp so you’ll be ready when the right job comes along!

Click here for how to answer that toughest interview question, “Tell me about yourself!”

*not his real name, of course

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