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Become a key worker for your employer

By Beverly Stewart

The bad economic news just keeps coming; it seems like furloughs and layoffs are being announced almost daily. At such times, it is only natural to worry that your head might be next on the chopping block. While you might be tempted to hunker down and hope for the best, a much better strategy woud be to make yourself more valuable to your employer by developing new skills that will benefit the organization. And if you do lose your job, being able to add in-demand skills to your resume will make you more marketable.

Approach your boss and ask what more you could be doing to help the company in these tough times. Are there new responsibilities you can take on? Understaffed projects that could use help?

It is important to continue (or start) learning more about your industry by reading books, trade publications and blogs. Become more active in professional organizations, or join them if you do not already belong. Not only will you learn from peers, but also you will develop contacts who could be valuable if you do need to find a new job.

Learn a new software program that is important in your industry, or become more adept at the software you currently use. It is not enough to just get by, you should aspire to excel.

Learning a foreign language is another good way to increase your marketability, though it will require a longer-term commitment.

computer monitorAlso look for seminars that can enhance your expertise in customer service, management or marketing. Take a course in business writing. You can find free and reasonably priced half- and full-day seminars offered by the Chamber of Commerce and professional organizations. Offer to pay for the course yourself. And of course, take advantage of any training your employer offers.

National companies such as Fred Pryor and Career track (www.careertrack.com) offer business skills training on-site and online. Search the Internet for appropriate webinars.

To learn a new skill quickly, consider a tutor who can teach you one on one, focusing directly on your needs. If you have been laid off, this is a good time to continue your education. The unemployment rate is high across the board, but workers with college degrees are faring much better than those with less education. In December 2008, the overall unemployment rate was 7.2 percent, but the rate for college graduates was just 3.7 percent.

If prospects in your industry look bleak, consider a career change. Health care remains a growth industry, and one with little potential for outsourcing. It is well known that nurses are in demand, but also look into other health care jobs, such as physical therapy and geriatric care.

You can get started quickly by taking the courses necessary for an entry-level job. Then, if you enjoy the work, you can continue your education part time – perhaps, if you are lucky, with tuition assistance from your new employer.

Yes, times are uncertain, but you can take some control by having an action plan for making yourself more valuable to current or future employers.

For more information, please visit Back to Basics website at http://www.BacktoBasicsLearning.com

For 25 years, Back to Basics has been recognized as the area’s undisputed leader in one-on-one tutoring. In addition, the firm offers a unique Delaware private school for grades K-12 and a Private Business and Trade School for adults. Back to Basics is the 2010 Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics.

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