By Liam Horan, Career Coach & Managing Director, Sli Nua Careers
In sport, there is the phenomenon known as earning the right to play.
It can mean physically dominating your opponent before going on to play the beautiful stuff. Or it can be hanging in during the nervy early rounds so that you are still there down the back nine.
It is the stuff you do before you get to do your stuff.
In careers, there is a parallel. There are certain skills you really should acquire to give you the chance to use your core skills.
Let me explain: you say you love dealing with customers. You enjoy helping to solve their problems. You value the feedback you get. To you, it is all about the customer.
An employer will rightly conclude you are genuinely customer-focused. A customer-focused person can be powerful in most organisations.
But it may not be enough.
Once upon a time, a customer-focused person may have been able to get by with a pen and paper, a phone, a desk and a bright smile. Today, it is almost inevitable the same customer-focused person will require significant IT skills to do their job.
The IT skills are the stuff they must acquire before they get to do their stuff, if you get my drift.
Upskilling yourself in the area of IT is imperative for many people. In this era of widespread career change, it can be daunting to leave one workplace, where you were accustomed to the IT systems and practices, only to find that there are a thousand other systems and practices out there.
Technology might not be your thing, but it is the vehicle that allows you to do your thing.
I meet a considerable number of candidates who get stuck at this point. “I was very good on the system we used,” they say, “but I haven’t a clue about other systems.” They feel overwhelmed when they read job specs with all sorts of technology requirements included.
If your IT skills are not where they should be, do not procrastinate one more day. Find courses today. There is an array of courses out there. Get yourself into the groove: you are likely to find that the feeling of being overwhelmed will diminish quickly enough, and you will move from fear to curiosity.
You will learn that someone with good IT skills doesn’t necessarily know – indeed, couldn’t know – all the programmes and platforms out there, but they have developed the self-confidence to have a go. Once you reach that point, you are close to earning the right to play.
The Guardian, who I have referenced here before, and who have an excellent career development section on their website, recently identified five courses you should do ‘to help you get ahead in your career’. They argued you should learn how to build you your own website, learn effective communications, develop accounting skills, look at applied behavioural analysis, and study medical decision-making. An eclectic list, you will agree, but the writer, Katherine Purvis, explains her reasons extremely well. You can read the full article here: http://goo.gl/9BwIiC
Up skilling yourself is not confined to job-seekers, of course. It is something employees should do throughout their careers. The world of work is changing rapidly, and that brings its own challenges: there is also the deep satisfaction of learning new things, putting yourself to the test and exploring new methods.
Liam Horan is Managing Director of Sli Nua Careers Ltd. You can read more blogs from Sli Nua Careers coaches HERE, and make a booking for CV Preparation and Interview Training.