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How to stay relevant

Lucky enough to love your job? Here’s how to stay a step ahead and keep thriving!

Here’s the thing: no matter what industry you’re in, only one thing is guaranteed.  It’s going to change! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that whole sectors, and even the way that people work, is evolving and shifting constantly.

New technologies and automated systems are changing the way people do their jobs. The good news is these changes can allow you to benefit from working in a more streamlined environment that gets you the most bang for your buck.

Don’t let it scare you – change is your friend! But if you’re keen to stay in your industry, now’s the time to get savvy about how to make change work for you and not against you. Double down on your commitment to jump in and keep learning so you can stay flexible and be a valuable member of your team for the long term.

Staying relevant isn’t hard, but it does take a bit of thought. Depending on your industry, it may mean investing in a little up-skilling in your spare time.

Regardless of where you work, you’re the master of your destiny, so don’t let yourself get stagnant and stuck! A little extra effort could make you invaluable to the people you work with and will pay off as your career moves forward.

Ready to get started?

First off, keep your eyes open.

It might sound like a no-brainer, but you don’t know what you don’t know. When we get complacent in the daily grind at work, it’s easy to miss the big stuff happening all around us. Making a point to stay aware of shifts in systems and what those changes mean for your role is crucial.

Ask questions (and listen to the answers).

If your typical mode is to hang back on the sidelines or letting work just happen around you, now’s the time to get engaged. Becoming a hand-raiser will not only keep you from mentally checking out at work (we’ve all been there, sometimes it’s hard to stay focussed), it means that you’ll stay connected to the movements of your company.

Being aware of changes, even the ones that seem small or insignificant, will keep you ahead of the game and allow you to be quick on your feet if you need to change course to make sure your job is still ticking the boxes it needs to. Beyond all of this, asking questions signals your commitment to the job at hand and lets your managers know you’re all in.

Listen to the pros.

Who are the change-makers in your industry? Knowing who they are and what they’re working on, predicting, and innovating will put you at a great advantage. You’ll be able to weigh in on topics rather than quickly Googling a topic to keep up.

Identifying these people will also give you great targets to aim toward and measure against. When they make a book, article, app or podcast recommendation, tune in!

Specialise, but keep an eye on the big picture.

It’s hard to overestimate how important it is to get really good at something that’s crucial to the overall success of the place where you work. Your value will skyrocket! As you’re considering where to specialise, keep an eye on the big picture as well. Choosing an area that will have maximum impact in the future will make your value multiply as time goes on.

After you’ve done your research, consider approaching your manager about the specialisation you’re considering. Some workplaces have funding available for building skills in existing employees, so if you need training, they may be able to provide support either in the form of time off or funding. Never hurts to ask! 

Best way to fight complacency? Never stop learning.

Think learning stops when you have a diploma in your hands? Think again. To stay up to date with your industry, you can’t rely on the basic learning and skills that got you in the door. Unlike when you were studying, you won’t have outside pressure from professors or deadlines: you’re in charge of this learning! 

Build your tangible skills…and your soft skills.

When you’re thinking about where to start, it’s a good idea to break things down into two categories: tangible skills and soft skills. You’ve probably heard these terms floating around, but here’s a quick crash course.

Tangible skills are just what they sound like: practical, applicable tools that help you to perform the tasks associated with your role better. A good example of a tangible skill is mastering a new type of software or getting trained on new machinery that can make your job more efficient.  

As you might imagine, soft skills are a little less concrete, but just as important! Soft skills allow you to function better in any role, and they can seriously boost your value as an employee. Things like becoming a strong communicator, working on problem-solving, and thinking creatively will pull you above the daily grind and help you become someone that people love working with.

Start where you are.

The good news is that now it’s easier than ever to find ways to build both tangible skills and soft skills, and a lot of them are free (or cheap).

  • Blogs can help you follow major industry trends or drill down to specific topics like being a woman in leadership. Find one you love and check in regularly.
     
  • Events are a no-hassle way to get in one room with experts on a certain topic. Check out events in your area and strike up conversations with people around you – networking is an added bonus!
     
  • Online courses are available on a million topics, so the world is your oyster here. Check out the Kahn Academy to learn concrete info, but there are plenty of ways to learn soft skills online too, like this https://www.class-central.com/course/futurelearn-logical-and-critical-thinking-3715
     
  • Self-awareness tools can be great way to get to know yourself better and make some internal changes that help you grow. Start with an online personality test and go deeper from there if you’re interested!
     
  • Short courses and continuing education classes are usually created with working students in mind – check out the options available at MIT and choose the one that’s right for you. 

Make your relationships mean something.

Have a mission to have diverse mates at work who are both older than you and younger than you. They’ll have perspective that might allow them to clue into a change that you hadn’t noticed, and even casual conversations could give you direction or an idea of where you could spend some time up-skilling.

Networking isn’t just for when you need a new job, it can help you ace the one you already have. It might seem counterintuitive to take time away from your work to go to trade shows or industry conferences, but they might give you a huge boost. Just being around people who are all in your same field could spark questions and conversations you hadn’t considered before.

Get inspired!

By sticking with your current industry, you give yourself a gift. Rather than starting from scratch or needing an entirely different degree, you can build on what you already know and dive deeper. Stay motivated by looking for inspiration all around you – whether through podcasts, conversations with colleagues or learning online about a new app that could revolutionise your workday.

By constantly growing, you’ll add layers to your years of experience. Before you know it, you could find yourself right among the experts you admire.

Staying where you are can get you there in the end.

In a world where everyone seems to be job-hopping, sticking where you are can feel counter-intuitive, but as you can see, there are tons of benefits. Using these tips to make the most of your role means that you’ll still get variety even if your commute stays the same, so get creative and start boosting your value.

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