Ten Career Skills to Keep You Employable in the 21st Century
Karla Brandau, CSP,
Most people drive through
life looking in their rearview mirror and judging the future by the past. They
have a really good view of where they have been and mistakenly think the future
will be similar to the past as they make decisions based on their previous
experiences. Even though past experience gives a base for the future, there are
many employability factors to take into account as you plan to grab one of the
best jobs in 2010 and beyond.
The future work world will
be even more global. If your job is not one that requires you to physically be
in one place, i.e. serving food, washing windows and stocking grocery shelves,
you will be competing with bright and hungry workers in India, China, Korea and
other developing nations around the globe.
Competing in the new
environment will require higher levels of competence and necessitate looking
straight ahead, not constantly glancing rearview mirror for warm fuzzy feelings
about what you have achieved in the past.
Here are 10 skills to
acquire and refine that will increase your professional confidence level and
make you more employable in the 21st Century:
- Constantly adapt
to technology. Dependency on
technology in the future will increase, not decrease. Spend time learning
new computer programs but more importantly, make applications to your daily
routine and strive to use technology as an enabler of productivity, not as a
neat new toy with tons of cute features that you don’t use. To decide if the
new gadget is worth the time, ask yourself, “Does this make time or waste
- Embrace diversity.
Get comfortable with other
ethnic cultures, religions and customs. Be curious about what makes people
from other cultures tick. Learn a little about the customs and attitudes
that belong to workers from other countries. The time will be well spent as
you begin to relate human to human, not human to inhabitant of another
- Be a life-long
learner. When you finished your
last college course did you utter a sigh of relief and mumble something
like, “Whew, glad I’m finished with my education!” Surprise…the new
century will require you to be a continuous learner. Be prepared to reinvent
yourself, the pool of information in your brain and your work-related skills
every 4-5 years.
impeccable integrity. Employers
need to feel your spirit and have the quiet assurance that you are
honest. Even one person in an organization who takes advantage of company
assets for personal gain causes untold rules and regulations. Taking
integrity beyond just simple honesty, however, means that when you commit to
a deadline, you are fully committed to producing results, not excuses.
- Be a self-starter.
Fire yourself up or look forward
to being the first to go when bottom lines dip into the red, a recession
lurks around the corner or the next merger takes place. Those who learn to
work on the optimistic side of life not the pessimistic side of life, are
more valuable to the organization as they create a positive work environment
that produces higher productivity.
personal discipline. Employers
want to hire people who have disciplined work habits and disciplined
thinking. The more disciplined the worker, the less time managers must spend
rethinking, retracing and reworking…basically worrying if you will be
reliable. When you demonstrate personal discipline, you and your manager can
spend more time on solving problems and moving the company forward.
- Prioritize and
evaluate daily. Two of
the biggest time wasters in the world are not knowing where to start
when you get to work in the morning and working on low priority items. To
compete in the global work environment takes meticulous prioritization of
tasks and the ability to identify the highest priority item that you tackle
first every morning.
- Be adaptable.
To stave off obsolescence,
organizations must constantly change and regularly introduce change
initiatives. Often employee resistance derails plans for updating processes
and procedures and stalls company progress. To increase employability in
2010, learn to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Ask tough
questions that define the future and actively look for ways to support the
new change initiatives.
- Think creatively
and innovatively. Contributing
to your organization in 2010 demands thinking outside of the box and looking
for creative ways to solve nagging problems, increase productivity or
produce a new product or service. When a challenge presents itself, be the
first to offer a new viewpoint, discover an alternative or recommend another
course of action. Your ideas combined with the creative ideas from other
employees will help your organization renew itself as necessary to be
competitive in the 21st Century.
10. Have the Can-Do attitude.
Immerse yourself in all the available positive
mental attitude material you can find. Negatives are thrown at you the entire
day from the news, next door neighbors and the nerd in the next cubicle. Teams
face hurdles to productivity which causes dissention among members. Management
faces stockholder dissatisfaction and product deadlines. To compound the
problem, your mind naturally generates negative thoughts before positive
thoughts. You have to train your mind to see the positive, to find the positive
and to see the opportunity lurking in the obstacle. If you can master the
positive can-do attitude, you will add value to every thing you touch and be
more employable in an increasing negative world.
Some of these skills will
be relatively simple and others may be difficult for you to implement. As you
improve in each area mentioned above, however, you will increase in confidence
and competence and create an environment where you add value to the organization
and a need for your personal services. You will have greater job stability.
About Karla Brandau
Karla Brandau, CSP, is an
expert in change, leadership and team building in the flat world. She offers
keynotes and workshops to improve personal and organizational competence. Sign
up for herCompetence newsletter and download free articles by
www.KarlaBrandau.com. Contact Karla at 770-923-0883 for a free consultation
on change initiatives or to check the availability of dates to bring Karla to