Job Security: Why Mastering New Skills Matters

Failure to stay current in your field can be a costly mistake. According to a new report from Recruiting, even if your position at work is secure, mastering new skills and innovations will keep you from falling behind . . . and make you better suited to adapt to changes. Larry Shoemaker of Cornerstone International Group also weighs in with additional insights.

June 3, 2021 – It is easy to become complacent and think you are the expert in your position, especially if you have held your post for some time. It may be tempting to assume that you have all the skills and knowledge you need to continue being successful.

But according to a new report by Recruiting “things are constantly changing—new technology, techniques, and ways to make your field better. If you don’t keep yourself up to date with new developments, you may find yourself left behind.”

Not all companies, of course, provide comprehensive professional development to keep their employees up to date, so it is crucial that you seek it out on your own, said the search firm. “Even if you feel secure in your position at work, you should make sure you remain competitive that you are as knowledgeable about the advances in your field as your co-workers.” The goal of any professional is to be the best at what you do, and the only way to do that is to be able to master the new skills you will need to continue to be the best, the firm said. “If you haven’t taken the time to learn about the newest advances in your field, you may not be as valuable in your position as you aim to be, which could eventually put your job in jeopardy.”

Increase Adaptability and Get a Promotion

You never know when things at work will change with no warning. says that your company may have a new CEO come in, or you may get new team members who bring more to the table. “If you are up to date on the advancements in your field, you will be able to adapt to changes that happen rapidly because you will already be aware of the new way of doing things,” the firm said. “The new computer program at work? No problem, you did a training recently on the newest technology in your field. Now you can adapt and change your position to fit the new technology you need to use.”

When you start working at a company, your goal is most likely to move up in the chain of command and get a promotion over time. “The best way to impress your superiors is to keep yourself up to date, learn to adapt to new ways of doing things and stay knowledgeable about the advances in your field,” the report said. “Knowing the latest information and using the newest technology will make you more relevant in your position. You will have a better chance of being noticed and promoted by your boss because you present as the best in your position.”

Essential Leadership Skills for Challenging Times
As the economy continues its rapid transition toward automation, the customer experience field requires strong leadership to keep customers engaged. Soft skills, such as communication and emotional intelligence, will be the skills that set the best leaders apart from the mediocre, according to a new report by Christopher Rios of Blue Rock Search.

Stay Sharp

Experience is important when applying for a new position, but knowledge is as well, according to the report. “When you apply for a new position, you want to look your best and show how knowledgeable you are about your field,” the report said. “Being up to date on your career training and knowing how to use the most recent technology in your field will show how much of an asset you will be to the new company. Make yourself stand out as the best and most qualified in your field so you can get the position you are looking for.”

Continuing to learn about the field you are in will not only help you in your position, but it will keep your mind sharp as well. “Being complacent with the knowledge you have is not the way to move forward in your field,” said. “Staying a student and continuing to learn the most recent advances will sharpen your mind because you will be learning and challenging yourself to be better.”

Related: Building Workforce Skills Post-Pandemic also notes that it is important to continue to learn about your field of expertise. “The last thing you will want at work is having a new person hired that can do a better job than you because they know about the most current information and technology in your field,” the search firm said. “It is as easy as signing up for an online course and devoting a few hours to learning something new every few months. Consider it a part of your job that you can make fun and exciting. Learning new things is often enjoyable and you will be able to put that knowledge to good use at work.”

Veteran Recruiter Weights In

Larry Shoemaker, president of Cornerstone International Group, has decades of experience in executive recruiting and understands the importance of mastering new skills, He also knows what new skills are now most in-demand.

Since founding Shoemaker & Associates in 1990, Mr. Shoemaker has been conducting senior-level recruiting assignments and coaching and assessing leaders throughout North America, as well as globally. His focus has always been on how candidates fit into an organization’s culture. Mr. Shoemaker recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the most widely sought after skills he sees in today’s business climate.

     Larry Shoemaker

How has digitalization and remote work changed the type of skill sets companies are looking for in candidates today?

As a result of the pandemic, the nature of work has rapidly changed. Overall, no change has had more impact on people and organizations than remote work. Getting things done and effectively working with other employees has suffered, and continues to evolve because of the absence of informal, ‘pop-up’ meetings. As a result, more emphasis has been placed on tasks and delivering specific results, and less on teamwork and sharing. There is less employee engagement within organizations. Too often, employees are thinking and acting as if they are independent contractors who are rewarded for delivering specific results.

So, team contribution is seen as having less value?

Team contribution seems to have less value. To counter this, many organizations are placing emphasis on skills that support a remote working environment. The anticipated ‘blended’ work that includes some combination of remote and office will place even more emphasis on certain skills. People who thrive in this work environment have strong people skills. These are usually a combination of social and emotional skills, including communications and empathy. People with these skills have the ability to better understand the personal impact of remote work and are effective in both leading and supporting.

How will this affect culture?

While people skills have always been important in evaluating candidates, today many organizations accept them as being critical in determining how a specific candidate will contribute. The ability to work with others, and the empathy to understand not only yourself, but those around you, helps ensure a diverse and inclusive culture. Adaptability is another important skill. Individuals who can take advantage of new inputs and situations, maybe significantly changing to accommodate opportunities, fit well into today’s organizations. These individuals can rapidly change to accommodate challenges and opportunities, and enable organizations to move at a faster pace.

Organizations are considering skills when they hire, but experience has not been displaced as the leading requirement.”

Are companies hiring for skills or experience?

Organizations are considering skills when they hire, but experience has not been displaced as the leading requirement. However, organizations have found they can have a broader panel of candidates to choose from by considering experience from similar or somewhat related roles. The breadth of the candidates’ experience enables an organization to consider individuals who offer a different perspective than those with experience that only fits the role. Organizations that define experience in broader terms, and identify specific skills that are critical, can consider candidates they may have previously passed over. The adage of ‘been there, done that’ is becoming less important than having shown success in somewhat similar situations and having potential to succeed because of skills. Not all organizations are taking this approach, but as the demand for talent intensifies, I’m confident more will.

What skill sets are most in-demand?

There are a number of skills that are in high demand, most of which fall under the broad terms of interpersonal, change and accountability. Empathy is probably the most important. Things are changing, and will continue to do so in the employer/employee relationship. Being able to lead this change while delivering the organization’s and the employees’ expectations require the ability to truly understand people and the organization’s vision and be able to ‘make it work for all.’

Sounds like adaptation is key.

Adapting to opportunities and challenges, while considering both the organization’s and the employees’ interest, leads to long term stability. Accountability is often not specifically identified as a required skill, but it is the foundation for change. Those individuals who are willing to take appropriate risks, while holding themselves and those around them accountable, will continue to be in high demand. Making sound decisions, considering available information as well as possible changing situations, in a speedy manner, will be important moving into the future. These are all skills that should be identified in the recruiting process and considered as part of the candidate evaluation process.

Related: Skills Gap Points to Why We Need to Invest in People

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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