A journalist for the Associated Press, who was writing an article on the topic of refining your skills when you’re unemployed, interviewed me today.
Apparently, she was inspired to write the article after reading the statistic that over 14% of Americans are underemployed. I guess she was wondering about the possible link between being underemployed and one’s skills being rusty.
I think that underemployment has a lot to do with individuals minimizing their abilities or assuming they have to take what they can get for work, especially in this tight job market. Either way, you can end up settling for something less than you may be able to tackle or snag.
In regards to the topic of keeping skills sharp, the first step is to identify the skills that are in demand for your target job(s) and then determine the best way to build on or refine the competencies you already have.
Beyond the obvious options of enrolling in classes at a local adult education program or university, there are other ways to stay on top of your game. Here are a few examples:
Enroll in a certificate-yielding program in a university or college’s continuing education program
Attend seminars and workshops offered by your professional association (These days many associations offer a reduced rate or waive the registration fee for meetings altogether for unemployed individuals.)
Hire a tutor to help you refine your second language skills or learn the in-demand software to update your computer skills.
Check out your local Career Center to determine what relevant workshops they may offer.
Regularly review events calendars for the Chambers of Commerce and community organizations listed online and in print to see what they might be featuring.
Keep in contact with professionals in the fields you have targeted. They are the best source of current and accurate information about the skills and competencies needed to get the job done and, therefore, which ones to focus on in networking and during a job interview.