Bestselling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.
The increasing surge of productivity technology in the workplace continually changes the skills necessary to remain competitive. Ongoing development of technical skills and proficiency in certain technologies is necessary for survival, success and economic stability.
Not so long ago, competence with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint was a big plus on a resume. Today those skills are pretty much regarded as necessary. If you can't claim these now basic competencies, you're increasingly unemployable in the white-collar workforce and face shrinking opportunity in blue-collar jobs as well.
If you already have the technical and technology skills I'm about to outline, you are in a minority. You have enhanced opportunity for professional growth, career stability and economic security. If you have these skills, make sure you maintain this competitive edge to ease strategic career moves or fight your way back into the workforce.
On the other hand, if you aren't consistently developing new skills that are relevant to your area of expertise, you are heading towards obsolescence. You need to research the in-demand skills relevant to your job and profession and invest some time and energy in developing these skills to become competitive.
In-Demand Technical Skills
These are some of the new technical skills that are becoming sought across a wide range of white-collar jobs:
- Project management
- Six Sigma
- Lean management
- Theory development and conceptual thinking skills
- Counseling and mentoring
- Business analytics
- Affiliate marketing
- Social media, including both video and audio production
In-Demand Technology Skills
At the same time, there is also a growing list of technology skills focused on productivity that apply to all professions. You need to be computer literate to hold down almost any job today. Beyond the now-expected Word, Excel and PowerPoint competencies, most employers will welcome a staff member who knows their way around spreadsheets and databases, can update a web page, or is knowledgeable in customer relationship management (CRM).
Here are some of the skills that enhance employability in non-technology and technology jobs alike:
- Database management
- Spreadsheet creation
- Data analysis
- Quantitative analysis
- Building and designing presentations
- All modes of digital communications, including e-mail and social media
Eventually, more and more of these skills will become specific requirements for the jobs of the future. Until then, possession of these skills, and the new skills you see are headed your way, will add a special sauce to your candidacy for any job.
Have a question for Martin? E-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know. We look forward to hearing from you!