2020 set the bar high for rapid change. In many ways, so rapid that most of us never could have imagined the speed at which we have to adapt and pivot. If you’re unable to roll with the change you’re potentially setting yourself up as another casualty of the year. So how can you avoid this? Diversify.
Diversity in experience and skill allows you to be a creative problem solver, and relate to your team better. Furthermore, it allows you to become immersed with new technology trends, and systems.
Growing up, my father always found it important to teach me different things. By the age of 16, I was an expert on all things fly fishing, firearms, food tasting, cooking, and travel. At the time, I took it as good ol’ fashioned father-daughter time, but as I grew older, people were completely thrown off by how diversified my experiences were. I carried that into my adult life. When I went to college, I knew I wanted to do something where I could be diverse. I wanted to know that when everything went downhill, I’d be able to pick up and use my skills somewhere in that field.
I say all of this to tell you, now more than ever is the time to diversify your skillset. Learning is at the palm of our hand, or what others like to refer to as the internet. Here are 5 ways, you can amp up your skill set:
Taking a course to increase your skill set does not have to consist of going to college or paying for pricey online courses. There are many free/affordable courses that you can take online to diversify your skillset – and the best part is they all come with a certificate for you to brag about on LinkedIn or your resume. Some examples of diversifying your skill set through online learning look like:
- A marketing professional, taking a course at Google, to learn about web development, analytics, or coding
- A human resources professional taking a course at Coursera to becoming a trained mediator
- A professional looking to change their career by taking a project management or strategic planning course
Shadow a Colleague
Most companies are very open to development opportunities that are at no cost to them. However, if you have been in a position similar to me where I was the only person in the marketing department, use your network. What I love the most about my membership with Together Digital is the fact that there are women with a wide variety of expertise, around the country. If you’re part of a community like Together Digital, find the people who are currently employed in what you want to do. Make a connection and ask for a shadowing opportunity. A lot of people are happy to share the knowledge, and you have one more person in your network should you go into that field.
If you’re well versed in teaching yourself new things, the best way to expand your skill set is to learn by a YouTube video, a book, webinar, blog, etc.
Once you’ve learned, start working on your own practice projects! There are websites like Skillcrush, Geeks for Geeks, and Practice Python that have example projects that you can work on. No matter what you’re looking to do, there’s a practice project out there.
Finally, don’t let those blood sweat, and tears go to waste. Showcase your projects on a portfolio for the next dream job you apply to!
The best opportunity to gain hands-on experience is by volunteering for a local non-profit (Meals on Wheels or Make A Wish), professional (PRSA or AMA), or social organizations (sorority alumni association or national team). Many are in need of volunteers and have a variety of positions available.
Once you have some hands-on experience with your new skills, become a board member with an organization that you connect with and care about.
Both opportunities will expand your skillset and leave you with additional networking opportunities as well as future references. Also, this is an experience that can be used on your resume!
Study another language. Spend 20 minutes a day, learning another language to expand your skillset in other countries (freelancers) and to gain a lead in organizations. Most companies need a bi-lingual employee who is fluent in languages like Spanish, Mandarin, or English.
A diversified skillset means that you’re the jack of all trades in your industry or company – which is amazing. If you don’t plan to use it, the knowledge can be great for starting a business or consulting. If the end goal is to get a promotion, you’ll be seen as a leader in your position and employers will love your skills. In the process, remember that it’s all about doing what you love and not what other people want you to be. Diversify into your passion!