Greetings, career-focused individuals. Have you ever wondered why some colleagues advance in their careers faster than others? The difference can lie in an emphasis on how they demonstrate and articulate professional skills. As an integral part of your career development, honing your skills and even earning relevant certifications can significantly propel your professional growth. As a former Learning & Development leader, learning is dear to my heart and something I discuss and encourage regularly with my clients.
The Underrated Value of Skills in Organizations
In today's dynamic work environment, many companies lack a comprehensive mechanism to keep track of their employees' skills and certifications as they learn by doing on the job work, projects, and tasks. You may have gained a wealth of experience and knowledge on the job, but without a structured record, these valuable assets might go unnoticed. Particularly when leaders are looking for someone who can do X! That's how the same folks get "tapped on the shoulder" over and over for opportunities.
You have the opportunity to get more exposure for yourself, as you gain more skills. Proactively acquiring and documenting your skills and certifications, particularly on platforms like LinkedIn, is crucial to increase your visibility within your organization and beyond. What's on the agenda for one on one's with your manager? Are you discussing career development? Are you having post-mortems about the event, program, or project you just completed? Is the reward for that a certification the organization can pay for? These meetings are a prime time to discuss what you learned, what skills you stretched or learned and how you can use them in other parts of the business. Even if your manager doesn't tee you up for the next big thing immediately, they now have at least a record of what you can do and that will come to mind when the next thing does come up. Follow up with an email on what you discussed after that post-mortem or one on one can't hurt either.
The Dual Importance of Technical and Soft Skills
When considering which skills or certifications can contribute to a salary increase, it is useful to think in terms of two key categories in this current work environment: technical skills and soft skills.
In the realm of technical skills, the ongoing shift towards artificial intelligence (AI) cannot be ignored. The demand for Generative AI and Prompt Engineers is rapidly increasing, with employers willing to pay a premium for these competencies. Fortunately, learning about AI is more accessible than ever, thanks to resources like Bing, Bard, or Open AI's Chat GPT.
Additionally, cybersecurity presents a wealth of career opportunities. Contrary to common perceptions, this field is not limited to code-cracking experts. Roles such as analysts, incident responders, and project managers are in high demand. Initiatives like Google's "Grow with Google" cybersecurity certification program offer accessible entry points into this burgeoning field. Thinking about a career pivot and want a higher salary? This is definitely something to consider in building a new career skill that is needed in the market.
Meanwhile, the value of soft skills remains undiminished. The ability to communicate effectively, demonstrate self-motivation, and maintain discipline—especially in remote work environments—are essential for career progression. Employers know that employees are seeking remote opportunities or want to stay in a remote environment. The question then becomes "how do I, as an employer, know that you have the self discipline to work remotely if I can't physically see you working every day?"
Now to those that are well versed and successful in this space, it seems like a no brainer. But remember: every organization has it's low performers, those who are Netflix and chillin' at home, and those who really do need more hands-on instruction and guidance. Your best bet here is to really be able to showcase and articulate how you SUCCESSFULLY work remotely. Give examples of successes where you've lead projects or completed major initiatives remotely. How did you gather the team? How did you keep people engaged? As a manager, who have you developed and who has succeeded under your leadership? That's what organizations want to understand. Those who can articulate those skills will have a leg up in the marketplace.
Taking Charge of Your Career Development
Investing in skills and certifications can be a game-changer for your career progression. By continuously improving your skills, showcasing them on professional platforms like LinkedIn, talking about them during one on one's, and committing to lifelong learning, you're not only advancing your career but also securing your future in the ever-evolving job market. It's time to take the driver's seat in your career journey. Your path to success is paved with continuous learning and skills enhancement.