Can Learning New Job Skills Boost Your Career?

How many times have you applied to a job thinking, “I’d be the perfect fit for this company?” Then you spend hours crafting an awesome cover letter and resume, only to never hear back or get a simple boiler plate response stating, “sorry but we are moving forward with other candidates.” It sucks! Trust me, I’ve been there more times than I’d like to admit.

“But,” you say to yourself, “How can I prove to them that I’m the right fit?”

Well, that’s a hard question to answer. Luckily, we are doing a phenomenal job in helping job seekers find their perfect company “fit.” You just now have to show it to the right company!

While determining fit can be a long and complicated process, here’s a way to catch a company’s attention – possess and display job skills that are in high demand. No, I’m not suggesting everyone should learn how to code (though it’s fun and I recommend it), but rather job seekers should have tangible skill sets that will set them apart from the competition. Unfortunately, in this economy having a degree is just not enough. However, while the number of unemployed remains relatively high, there are tens of thousands of jobs that are not being filled because companies simply can’t find qualified candidates – hence the “skill gap” that is often mentioned in the media.

So what kind of job skills should you learn? Well, it depends on what field you are pursuing. It’s not necessarily something I can entirely cover in a simple blog post; it’s something you should really spend time thinking about. For example, if you want to go into Marketing, having simple Photoshop skills or a basic understanding of Web Design can help set you apart. If you want to go into any industry that’s heavily quantitative, make sure you know the ins and outs of Excel or statistics. If you don’t have these skills but want to learn, you can start leveraging online courses to start learning.

Two things to consider before you start:

1. Experience is key
How can you get experience if you can’t get a job? Experience doesn’t necessarily have to be from paid work, but regardless it’s incredibly important. If you want to be an engineer, are you contributing to open source projects? Are you taking on side projects as a freelancer or just for the fun of it? Experience is important because it shows not only that you deeply care about a topic, but also rather you are utilizing the job skills needed to succeed in real projects. It’s very easy to say, “I’m great at Excel or I’m passionate about something” but if you took that extra step in making something tangible to back up those points, then you’ll be miles ahead of those who don’t.

2. Don’t forget about the soft skills
Can you confidently deliver a presentation? Do you work well with a team? How well can you handle potential clients? How well can you manage your time and stay effective? These are questions all employers will want to know.

 

Whatever you choose to learn, there are numerous resources online to help you get there. If you want to hone your job skills by taking on small projects, I recommend going on Elance or oDesk. If you prefer more of a visual help, RedHoop has more than 8,000 classes in our database, and 1700+ are free. There you can find a whole range of topics, such as Excel, Photoshop, Software Development, etc. With the recent explosion of online learning, gaining these skills has never been easier. Don’t get me wrong, you still have to work hard and dedicate hours to hone your craft, but with enough dedication and perseverance, you can truly stand out from the rest.

 

About the Author

Ben Kim is a recent graduate from the University of Notre Dame. He is also the Community Manager forRedHoop, a website that helps self-directed learners further their education by making it easier to search for online courses. When he’s not working, he spends his time reading, coding, and blogging about the job search process as a recent graduate.

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Career, job, Jobsearch, skills