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Ensuring Your Employability In A Changing World

Posted on: April 4th, 2011 by David Bowman

It seems the world is changing faster every day. Almost overnight, business has become global. Technology is outdated in a few weeks, or months. Customer tastes change at lightening speed. Increasingly, jobs are being outsourced to other locations. The pace can be dizzying.

Of course, employees must stay current with all of these changes, or employers will find others – who are current – to take their place. But, the “how-to” of staying current is confusing, because it too changes quickly. So, what should you be doing to maintain your continued value to an employer? What are the guidelines for ensuring your employability today? Let’s look at several of these.

Ability to work in teams. Very few of us work alone today. Most work is accomplished by two or more people – often in groups or teams. In fact, one concept of teaming is the self-managed team, in which there is no boss or supervisor. There’s only a team leader who is often a peer of the other team members.

Important to team productivity is participative management. No longer can the team leader say things like, “do it my way, or it’s the highway for you!” Now, it’s group-think and decisions are made democratically. So, to build your value to an employer, learn to work within a team.

Computer and hi-tech proficiency. Regardless of your industry, computers and advancing technology will continue to have an ever increasing dramatic impact. The rapid development of hardware and software is mind boggling. Consider the fact that today we can have video conferencing to a world-wide audience, and it’s from a single computer with a camera and microphone. Products and even political campaigns are launched via the internet. Missiles can be launched from great distances and hit targets within inches of the intended mark. Remember how quickly we went from snail mail and the telephone, to faxes, to e-mail and now to complete communication systems on smart phones? In fact, look at today’s in-person global interactivity through high quality audio and video!

Biotechnology is advancing so quickly, some medical experts predict we may wipe out many major human diseases in just a few years.

How current are you with computer and other hi-tech advances in your industry? If you aren’t at cutting-edge, you’d better get back to school quickly.

Customer/client focus. This is incredibly important. But, it seems to be practiced so seldom. Why is it that many organizations put their least trained, rudest employees at the front lines of their businesses – to greet the customer? Consider the phone companies and banks (to name only two industries). When was the last time you talked with a human being at the phone company? It seems these organizations continue to exist simply because of their enormous size – certainly not because of their customer focus.  It’s important to remember that a business continues because of its customers, and when customers vote “no” with their pocket books, well…

So, a great way to make yourself valuable to employers is to have a focus on customers, and know how to create their loyalty.

Knowledge of business trends. Is there an industry today that isn’t in the midst of change? I can’t think of one. Of course, change means obsolescence for those who don’t remain current. What are the new methods of producing and delivering products and services in your business, and who is using them? What are the changing tastes in the marketplace? What are the newest techniques for improving productivity, and who uses them? These are only a few of the many questions you should be asking yourself about knowing your business. If you don’t know the answers, you’d better find them.

Communication ability. No, I don’t mean communication technology. I’m referring to your ability to communicate with others in both a verbal and written form. Can you present written proposals in a crisp, concise way? Are you able to verbally communicate effectively with customers and internal colleagues?

If you’re verbal skills need improvement, I suggest you join an organization like Toastmasters, which can help you improve your public speaking ability. If you’re writing ability isn’t top notch, you might consider attending an adult education writing class at a local high school, or university. There are many types of writing improvement classes, and any one of them could make a big difference in your value to an employer.

Lifelong learning. Just because you’ve graduated from formal schooling, doesn’t mean you can stop learning. Certainly not in today’s changing world! You must keep yourself at the forefront of knowledge about your business and the world. How aware are you about the global economics of your industry? When did you last attend a seminar and/or class on a topic of importance to your career and job? How often do you read industry periodicals, as well as a general purpose newspaper and/or magazine – either the print or on-line version?

Unaware people don’t have much strategic value to their employers. Don’t let a more knowledgeable person edge you out of a promotion, or even your job.

Cultural sensitivity. North America is a region of mixed races and ethnicities. It has many cultures and heritages. And, this multi-culturalism will continue – socially and in the workplace. In fact, our laws ensure that it will continue. For you to remain valuable to your employer, you must respect and be able to work with those of other ethnicities and from other cultures. Indeed, it’s often the abilities and ideas from different backgrounds that most effectively solve problems, as well as create new products, services and methods of doing things. Respect and embrace those of different descent. It will make you a valued employee and citizen of the twenty first century!

Maintaining your employability in these turbulent times is not easy. But, follow these tried-and-true suggestions and you’ll continue to stay ahead of the many folks behind you – many of whom are waiting for your job.


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