O.K. another post about the economic conditions and the fact that companies are cutting back. I’ve heard, seen and experienced the pinch of what the current economy is doing to people. I know those that have been laid off, took cuts in pay, reduce hours and had their fringe benefits slashed. I know people are working harder and longer to make up for the fact that the company had to let others go and they are left to pick up the slack. One would think that just keeping your head above all this would be enough, but wait…. let’s add that you still need to keep your primary and foundational skills sharp.
No one can remain stagnate and expect to grow. The current economic state will change and jobs will be available once again. You will want to either move up in your current company or move to another company. You want to demonstrate that you have not let your skills atrophy while waiting but that you did something to take control of your own destiny. After all your company has cut out the important programs they once had like, training & development courses, seminars, tuition reimbursement plans and other continuing educational benefits. They have eliminated mentors and advisers. You are left to not only work the job, but develop and grow with no help from your employer (in many cases, there still are those wise companies that realize the biggest asset they have – their employees and I salute you!)
So how do you do this? First, the easiest way is to read. Read topics relating to your field, read news articles, blog postings, any material you can get your hands on and with the internet it has never been easier. If you find someone who is of great interest, subscribed to their RSS feed so that their content comes directly to your Inbox.
Next, go on-line and search for free webinars. YouTube is a wealth of information. People just like you are sharing their experiences as well as some experts that are sharing their seminars and workshop videos. Did you know you can learn how to dance through YouTube, just in case you need a diversion occasionally.
Find your own mentor or adviser that who aligns with your career goals and aspirations. I’d suggest using LinkedIn to find a connection. With the number of people on LinkedIn you are bound to find one that matches what you are looking for. When you do, reach out to them. If you are concerned about how they will react, just think of how you would react if someone contacted you because of your skills, knowledge and abilities. I bet you would feel honored.
If you are not on LinkedIn now is the time to join. While you are setting up your profile you also want to check out the Groups and join a few so that you can follow and contribute to the ongoing conversations. Not only can you get great advice from these groups, but you can also share your knowledge and help someone else. If you have a question about your field of interest, or you are thinking of changing careers, this is a great place to find out more.
If you really want to push the envelope, start a group at your own company. You could meet during a lunch hour, before or after work. Be creative. You could pick a topic and lead the discussion or ask for an outside expert to come in and be a guest speaker with each person paying a nominal fee if the speaker is going to charge you. Find out who is handling the training and development in your company and ask for assistance. They might come back and tell you they don’t have the resources at this time, but you are demonstrating that development is important to you. Who knows, they may listen and offer support.