Experts agree, the U.S. economy is overdue for a recession. Whether it’s a small or short pullback, some type of slowdown is coming. The best way to improve your job security is by taking a continuing education course, seminar or other type of professional training.
Here are 11 ways to improve your job skills and job security – and even get your company to pay for it.
Let employment ads guide you
Check out the skills, competencies, experience, training and education employers are looking for in specific jobs to help guide your professional development. Look at job descriptions for the job you currently hold, as well as a job you might like in the future.
This will help you decide what continuing education options are best for you.
Trade association certification courses
If your industry has a trade association or professional society, check out their schedule of continuing education courses. If you’re not certified in your field, consider starting the process. Even if you’re not certified, you can use the fact that you’re working toward professional certification as a selling point to a potential employer. It also lets your current employer know that you’re serious about your job and are working toward being a more valuable employee.
Each time you take any type of continuing education course, you may qualify for continuing education credit towards a certification program.
Webinars to improve job security
Improve your job skills with a webinar. You don’t have to schedule time during your workday to take an on-demand webinar. You pay a fee and access the course when you have time. If you want to take a live webinar, talk to your employer. In addition to giving you the time off to attend the webinar, your company might also pay the registration fee.
To find a webinar, type the topic you want to study into a search engine along with the word “webinar.” If you’re looking for ideas for ways to improve your skills, visit the trade association or professional society in your field and look for their education offerings. For example, the Healthcare Financial Management Association has a searchable database of their on-demand webinars.
If you can’t find webinars at an association’s or society’s website, call the headquarters and ask for help finding webinars on specific topics. If they don’t offer any, they should know of the providers in their field.
eLearning courses are similar to webinars, but they are often longer, multi-part sections you complete over the course of weeks or months. These usually cost more than a 60- or 90-minute webinar but provide much more in-depth learning and value.
Local lunch & learns and seminars
Look for local, in-person lunch and learns and seminars you can take. Start by visiting the website of your local chamber of commerce. Look for the websites of local or state chapters of national trade associations and professional societies. Lunch and learns and seminars not only provide valuable career information, but also help you network and learn about new potential job opportunities.
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National workshops require travel and hotel costs but open up networking opportunities with many more national contacts. These workshops often occur just before or during trade shows and conferences, offering you additional learning and networking opportunities. Start your search at the websites of national trade associations and professional societies, which often have an annual calendar of educational events you can browse. Check out their chapter websites, as well. Commercial seminar companies like SkillPath, Fred Pryor and Dale Carnegie offer a variety of professional development seminars that help you develop general business skills, such as leadership, communications skills and organization. You can also do a Google search for “professional development seminars” and include the name of your city.
Attending a trade show lets you learn about the latest products and services in your industry. You might also be able to attend free presentations that will help you sell or use these products and services better. Many trade shows have at least one exhibit day on Saturday, so you might be able to attend without asking your boss for a day off. On the other hand, your employer might want you to visit certain booths, ask questions, pick up samples and get bids for your company.
Conferences are daylong or multi-day learning opportunities for a specific industry or profession, or based around a specific job, product, service or other theme. In addition to many presentations, there might be an exhibitor hall and plenty of networking opportunities.
Annual meetings of trade associations and professional societies are similar to industry conferences run by for-profit groups. But in addition to lots of educational opportunities, annual meetings let you explore becoming more involved in an association or society, such as volunteering to serve on a committee or joining a chapter board of directors.
Community college courses
Your local community college is a great place to learn industry specific skills and to brush up on your soft business skills if you’re ready to move into management or start your own business.
Check out your local college’s online course directory to see what classes or certificates they might offer in your field. Think about taking a business-writing, basic accounting, computer skills or marketing course that will help you improve your management or entrepreneurial skills.
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Get your company to pay for continuing education~root~>
Many companies are happy to pay some or all of the costs for employee training. If you work for a small company, you might not be able to get your travel expenses reimbursed, but you might get the registration fee covered and have your travel day considered a paid working day.
The key to getting reimbursed for continuing education is not to tell your boss how it will help you, but how your new skills will help you improve the company’s bottom line. Think about ways that your new expertise will help the business increase sales or decrease costs to show a concrete benefit to the company.