New Tech Skills to Protect Your Job and Financial Security

Martin Yate By Martin Yate September 1, 2020
New Tech Skills to Protect Your Job and Financial Security

​Last week we discussed how to use technology and teamwork to protect your job. This week we'll concentrate on new aspects of your career management strategy to minimize your chances of being laid off and develop a desirable professional profile if a layoff does happen.

Unemployment and layoffs spiked in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People are now getting back to work, which is good news, but a second wave of the pandemic—and more layoffs—is anticipated. The next wave of layoffs may hit more higher-level white-collar workers, and experts believe that unemployment numbers will go up and down, sometimes quite dramatically, for the foreseeable future. Accordingly, until we come out of the economic downturn and unemployment caused by the pandemic, you should recognize that no one's job (not even yours) is safe. This is the time to check, overhaul and fine-tune the skills and attributes you bring to an employer.

Objective analysis reveals that your employer, acting in its own best interests, can give you only the least information possible and at the last viable moment regarding the likelihood of layoffs. This means it's your responsibility to protect your future, and that starts with the best possible defense strategies to protect the job you have.

Do You Need Another Degree?

Pursuing an advanced degree might be worthwhile, but it won't save the job you have today, and it will incur considerable costs. Alternatively, developing some additional in-demand hard skills might be the fastest way to protect your job. Picking up some new credentials might be a more effective, profession-related, educational path to pursue, because the credentials you earn are immediately relevant, more affordable and quickly achieved. Earning professional accreditations demonstrates your personal commitment and can only enhance your employability; these new skills also increase your future employability should a layoff happen.

How Do You Rank Your Technology Skills?

In our technology-driven world, tech skills have application within nearly all jobs and professions. Most jobs expect you to be computer literate and competent with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as e-mail and other digitally based communication platforms. These are skills sets in which proficiency is increasingly mandatory.

Possession of such skills—and the ones we're about to discuss—will help protect the job you hold and boost your candidacy for any new job you pursue.

People with in-demand skills tend to keep their jobs longer and get hired by a new employer more quickly following a layoff. Here are some of the most dominant new skills seen in job postings in the last year. You'll notice that the majority are technology skills, but there are also behavioral skills:

  • Cloud computing
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Sales leadership
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Translation
  • Mobile app development
  • People management
  • Video production
  • Audio production
  • UX design
  • SEO/SEM marketing
  • Blockchain
  • Industrial design
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Adaptability
  • Time management
  • Persuasion
  • Digital journalism
  • Project management
  • Six Sigma skills
  • Lean Management skills
  • Social networking skills                 
  • CRM
  • Counseling and mentoring
  • Research skills
  • Sales
  • Theory development
  • Conceptual thinking
  • Communication
  • Database management
  • Spreadsheets
  • Social media
  • Building presentations

Technical Skills

Even though you may not work in a technology field, technology will likely impact the way work is done in your area of expertise, so you will still benefit by increasing your knowledge base. For example, a technology such as blockchain frequently impacts every department in the company. By increasing your awareness and understanding of what a new technology does and how it will affect your department's functions, you are making yourself more valuable.

I'm not suggesting you become a blockchain wizard, but if you understand how, where and why this technology will impact your area of work, you dramatically increase your credibility and visibility within the company.

In a couple of weeks, we'll discuss the personal behaviors that support success in professional jobs.

Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions and offers his thoughts about how to further your career in HR. 

From big issues to small, please feel free to 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.

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