GNcareers, from Gulf News

Being clued on to trends in the industry

Keep any eye on the requirements, qualifications and duties. Be realistic about your skills in all of these areas. Ask yourself if you can pass a test on the required skillsImage Credit: Supplied

Staying competitive in a job market can be a challenge. Ironically, this can even be bigger for those who are in committed careers. They may lose sight of what their industry demands and fall into routines at their employers that are not necessarily the best for meeting their long-term goals.

With that in mind, it is important to always consider and evaluate where an individual is on skills, certification and credentials. This can be a hard exercise to squeeze into busy lifestyle and career demands. But if not achieved over the years, finding a new job when it is time to make a change can become a problem.

To stay ahead of the curve, there is a lot more to be done in addition to excelling in the current position. When you adopt a professional development path that is enriching to your overall career — and not just to your current job — you will be sure that the skills stay in demand across your field. This will ultimately enhance your standing with the employer as well.

Here are a few points that can help you stay competitive.

Join associations

Join industry associations and learn about industry developments, events and updates. Be part of the discussions about the challenges and opportunities in your field, even if you are not encountering them immediately. By being more aware of the surroundings, you will be able to prepare for future opportunities and eliminate obstacles that might emerge if changing jobs.

In addition, such associations may offer opportunities for training, mentoring and education. So you will be able not only to learn about the problems, but find reliable solutions in the process. You may also get adequate support and insider knowledge from colleagues in the same boat. These networking should help you stay on the right track even if you don’t change jobs any time soon.

Bring ideas to the table

Doing things the way they have always been done is common in many established businesses. But many employers may be open to hear about alternatives if they seem to be more efficient or cost-effective. So turn your learning and knowledge into practical steps that can help the employer. This will also give you a platform to practice what you learn.

If you find your ideas of change are not welcome, try to find other venues. For example, you may provide consulting or professional training to others, if your employer doesn’t mind you taking a side gig. You even may seek a part-time position at your organisation’s training programme, if any.

The opportunities are endless if you have what it takes to bring new ideas to the table.

Check jobs

Yes, it is a simple as going through job posts occasionally to see what other employers are looking for. Even if you’re not planning on switching jobs, just subscribe to alerts of jobs that meet your professional advancement aspirations.

Keep any eye on the requirements, qualifications and duties. Be realistic about your skills in all of these areas. Ask yourself if you can pass a test on the required skills.

Honesty about where you stand now can help detect your shortcomings and work on improving skills over time. Doing so when you are not under pressure to change jobs is the best strategy, because it gives you time to research resources, find learning opportunities and allocate time for your efforts.

When checking jobs, look at both the jobs that are at your level and those slightly higher as well. If changing jobs, you probably will be hoping to get more money and a better title, so make sure that you work toward this end. Employers have different requirements based on their scale and staff size — so be sure to look at a variety of organisations and as many job posts.

With the luxury of time and research, you should be able to define your job-market standing and get an excellent understanding of where you can bring value to future employers.

* Stay competitive

* Immerse yourself in industry surroundings.

* Stay up to date with the learning.

* Apply and practice your knowledge.

* Find out what employers look for.

Source: Rania Oteify, Special to Gulf News

The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.