Use It or Lose It: How to Keep Your Job Skills Sharp!

May 7th, 2013 | Articles, Job Search, Resume | No Comments »

violin player

Writing a resume, though not always fun, can be enlightening for job seekers. It can help us recognize which skills are razor sharp and which are choked up by rust. Think of your skills as a faucet controlling the flow of water into a sink. When a talent is regularly used, your output flows quickly and cleanly. When a talent sits idle for a while, your output can sputter to a start with a slow, yellow tinted flow before getting back to that 100% effort.

Doesn’t sound too appealing does it?

So, focus yourself on the following activities and keep from losing any ground in the job market.

Continue your education:

Whether through formal certifications or your own self-training, a continued education not only expands your knowledge but boosts your existing skills. When learning, your brain comes to an understanding through association. It takes old information and uses it as a framework to comprehend anything new. So, when you pursue bleeding edge tech or practices, you are really hardening your current skill set.

Even a refresher course may be beneficial. By reviewing the basics, you can solidify what you already know and turn any nebulous ideas into crisp & clear understanding.

Practice makes perfect:

Studying can be great but hands-on use of your skills really drives home your talents. If you are looking to recuperate any lost skill, create and pursue a new project. There’s no better way to master something than outside of your comfortable, academic bubble.

If you go this route, your time is best served working on a project that will get real world use. If no one sees the finished project, your motivation might be lacking. Volunteer your talents for a non-profit or extend a helping hand to a family member or friend. That way, the stakes are higher and you have people relying on you to make it to the end.

Keep up with your professional community:

Sharing information is a great way to permanently add that information to your brain. When you try to think of ways to explain it, you are reviewing the information yourself and strengthening the connections between your brain cells. So, the more you repeat back information, the more you learn it.

That is why you should keep close ties with your peer group. By teaching out your knowledge to newcomers or engaging in a friendly debate with industry masters, your skills will see a marked increase.

The ultimate answer:

Ultimately, the best way to sharpen your skills is to practice a little bit of each approach. The structure of study gives you a great foundation, the pursuit of a project gives you flexibility, and the connection with your peers keeps you up with the times. That way, you exercise every technical muscle while building up your job marketability. Never again will doubt your skills because you’ll have real proof that you can quickly implement then on any project.

by James Walsh

[Photo Credit]