Jobs are more complex these days requiring cross-functional skills or specialized knowledge. Education is lacking for many unemployed workers and for those who are educated, the push has been towards non-technical skills creating a dearth of skilled workers in the trades. Schools and business aren't aligned especially in vocational and technical areas. So even students who want to train lack the facilities to become "job-ready" graduates.
Thousands of jobs are going begging because employers can’t find skilled employees. So what's an unemployed worker to do? On the 4th Annual Job Action Day sponsored by Quintessential Careers, the good news is that there are smart actions you can take. Having worked with individuals of all levels and backgrounds, I've found the skills mismatch can be a mindset issue and not reality.
Here are three ways to bridge the skill gap:
Most people take their strengths & talents for granted & don't tout them enough. Ask those who know you well, "What are my best skills, abilities and talents?" Take to heart what you hear. When something comes easily to you, don't mistakenly assume it comes easily for everyone.
Skills are transferable from job to job, employer to employer and industry to industry - more than most people realize. My client Steve found his skills as a marketing executive in the music industry were key in helping him successfully launch his custom furniture business. Now Hill Haus Woodworks is not only bringing him joy and fulfillment but a paycheck as well.
Sometimes we gain skills we'd rather not use. Rather than settle, Soul Search to determine those skills you most want to be using in your career -be honest. For Stanford graduate Jessica DuLong, working in an office didn't satisfy her soul. Yearning to work with her hands, she transitioned to working as a fireboat engineer and is now an advocate for putting American hands back to work in the trades.
With the myriad of reasons for the skills gap, it can feel as if it's out of the job seeker's control to bridge the distance. But you have a lot more skills than you give yourself credit for. Take these three actions on Job Action Day and you'll be ready to go after your dream job with the perfect match of skills and passion!
**Reinforcing the Job Action Day 2011 "Skill Up, Start Up, Speak Up" message is this group of bloggers dedicating blog posts on or around Job Action Day 2011 to the event. The first four represent the Quintessential Careers family of blogs:
WHO you know is as important as what you know. Knowing how to ask the VIPS in your circle for what you need takes skill and tact. Below etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore shares her top tips for making the most of your VIP connections...
In general, VIPs are inundated with requests for referrals and favors and they tend to decline unless they know you well. Once you’ve established a relationship, you’re ready to take the plunge. Your polite requests will be more valid and effective if you are willing to follow these guidelines:
•Study Up: Research the VIP’s passions. Your correspondence or conversation will flow more smoothly if you know something about his or her hobbies or interests. If you can find something in common with the VIP, the connection will most likely shift your relationship from casual to personal.
•Show Up: It’s best not to wait to reach out until you get laid off or need a favor or referral. You’ll increase your chances of making a good connection if you’re in the right place at the right time with the right information and the right attitude.
•Pay Up: In some cases, you may have to stretch your budget and spend some money to gain access to a VIP. Don’t be surprised if you have to buy a pricey ticket to a luncheon or gala so you can meet the VIP in person. You’ll acquire extra points if you can find out a VIP’s favorite cause, charity, or alma mater and make a donation in his or her name.
•Speak Up: Don’t be afraid to ask a VIP for a favor or a request, but make sure you know when and how to ask. Approach the VIP in a polite, humble, and respectful manner, and give it a shot. My motto is: if you don’t ask, the answer will always be “no,” but if you do ask, the answer just might be “yes.”
•Set Up: It’s counterproductive to attend events just because you skipped lunch and you’re hungry for cheese puffs or thirsty for a cocktail. Stay focused on your goal. Make a mental list of the VIPs you’d like to meet, and then introduce yourself as soon as you spot them. If possible, connect with the people you want to meet before the meal. Some VIPs like to make an early showing at an event and then quietly slip away as soon as possible so they can get to another engagement.
•Buddy Up: When you want to meet a VIP for the first time, find a host or someone in authority (the “connector”) to introduce you. This makes the introduction more significant than if you were to approach the VIP on your own. If there’s no connector, then take the initiative and hope for the best.
•Step Up: I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to put your boss on your VIP list. In a perfect world you might consider treating all of your work colleagues like VIPs, but it makes perfect sense to work especially well with your boss. Pay particular attention to the things your boss doesn’t like to do and then become exceptionally good at those tasks. You’ll not only score extra points with your boss; you’ll also make yourself indispensable. Your initiative and willingness to go the extra mile might just put you on your boss’s VIP list as well.
Many thanks to Jacqueline Whitmore, founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach for sharing her advice. Be sure to check out her new book POISED FOR SUCCESS (St. Martin’s Press, Nov. 2011). She can be reached at www.etiquetteexpert.com.