When I reflect on my career, one of the things I’m most thankful for was being let go from my first position. That was a key catalyst for my professional growth. When I lost that first job, I was forced to take stock of my skill set. The job postings I reviewed and the interviews I went on uncovered a big career mistake: My skill set was lacking because someone else was driving its development.
My strengths were in areas that served the immediate needs of my employer. But while I was working, other skills had grown in importance. By allowing my first employer to define my skill set, I fell behind.
To keep your skills current, be curious about what’s going on beyond your employer’s walls. Allowing your employer’s needs to dictate your professional growth leads to stagnation.
Allowing those needs to dictate your skill set hurts your employer too because stagnation minimizes opportunities for innovative solutions. Many firms identify innovation as a top need. Innovation is about new ideas, methods, products, and technologies.
But finding these come from branching out and exploring new paths. Innovation doesn’t come from reacting to a need but from continuously expanding your knowledge and skill set so that when new needs arise, you have new resources to fill them.
In today’s fast-moving world, if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind. So take control to ensure your skills remain current by
• Regularly attending conferences and events to learn what’s in demand in your industry and
• Taking continuing education courses to develop the skills you need to keep up.