Workplace Survival of the Fittest: Why It’s Important to Have Multiple Skills
Listen up, employees! You might be in big trouble if you’re relying on a single skill set to get you by in the workplace.
The more diverse you are in today’s business world, the more likely you’ll succeed. So how do you get there?
Adopt an athlete’s mentality.
Did you know that companies love hiring athletes?
It’s true: Many companies are looking for the “athletic” spirit. Anyone who’s played sports knows firsthand the kind of team building that needs to happen in order to be a successful team. The premise behind this thinking is that good athletes can most likely play every position. The idea is to become well-rounded and to not specialize in one particular skill.
Companies today would rather hire someone who can do several tasks than someone that can only accomplish one!
Gain a diverse background to prevent pigeonholing.
There’s a reason why big companies like Zurich Insurance or JP Chase Bank hire employees who are only good at one thing. They often use various recruiting firms to hire employees who will fulfill a super-specific task. Some would go as far as to call that pigeonholing.
Due to such a high volume of work, big companies tend to hire a specialized employee to complete one task; this strategy is great for the brand but not so great for the employee in the long run. Unfortunately, you may find it very difficult maneuvering out of a career if too many years have gone by doing a specialized job with few transferable skills!
So, if you don’t have multiple skill sets, then get them!
Despite what some sources say, you shouldn’t feel trapped if you’ve spent a long time in your position. For example, just because you’ve spent 10 years in the IT field doesn’t mean your skills aren’t transferable! Many similar careers may require the same skill set that has nothing to do with your current career, so don’t lose hope.
In fact, the best career-shifting strategy is to do research and find out exactly which skills you need to get your foot in the door. Unfortunately, however, most companies aren’t going to spend time training someone who’s trying to break into a career in this economy. So, while you’re still employed, try to take classes on the side or become certified in the area that interests you most. You can also network with people in that field to see if it’s right for you before making the switch.
It’s becoming more common to see employees further their education in order to stay abreast with the job market. They do whatever they have to in order to stay in current and survive! Staying busy is the best thing you can do for yourself, though. Find hobbies and things you love to do. Explore your likes and dislikes. Join local community groups to stay informed on current trends in your field. And most importantly? Network as much as possible. This can make all the difference in the world, and believe or not, it could pay off in the end.
Some workplace survival takeaways to consider:
- Keep yourself busy: Sharpen your skills, explore hobbies, and expand your knowledge whenever possible.
- Work hard: Keep your chin up, regardless of your position. You won’t further your career if you’re a bad sport! Make the best of every situation and stay focused.
- Network: Schedule lunch dates with old friends, keep up with industry trends, read industry-driven magazines, attend industry functions, and talk to others in your chosen field. It really does help.
- Further your education: Keep up with certifications and take classes on the side. There’s always a new skill to learn.
- Never give up: This is probably the most important takeaway of all.
As I mentioned before, we’re living in a day and age where having one skill isn’t going to cut it. Technology is simply passing us by too fast. “Survival of the fittest” is the best way to describe the economy we live in. We already know most modern Americans live from one paycheck to the next and may only have one skill set, if that. So, don’t limit yourself when you could push yourself instead! You can do it. Your skills are valuable. Good luck!
Do you have any additional advice for surviving pigeonholing in the workplace? Do you agree that athletes make good hires?
Image credit to Frederic Salein, AnyClip, and Yasser Alghofily.
Dréa is a proud member of the content team. She loves all kinds of music, but recently discovered a love for Indie Rock. The phrase "a kid at heart" best describes her, and she loves 80’s cartoons like The Jetsons, The Flintstones, Thundercats, and all things vintage (did you say Fraggle Rock?) Hint: If you need to find her weakness, it's through any Jim Henson production. You can connect with Dréa on Google+.