Technology is the rage, and employees need to keep up-to-date on the latest as it affects their industry. Being able to tap into technology – especially if you're an older job seeker – might be a real differentiating factor and help make it clear to employers that you can keep up with trends.
Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, a visiting scholar at Stanford University Media X program, suggests the following ways to incorporate technology both inside and outside of your workplace.
1. Join a work task force such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) implementation or corporate website development. Keep a close eye on what is going on outside of your immediate area, as there may be opportunities to jump in as a functional expert for a technological project. Wilen-Daugenti notes that is a win-win for you and the organization because, "The tech team learns about the user group and you learn about technology."
2. Spearhead a department technology project. Have you heard about opportunities for better communication using apps or other technology? Perhaps you attended a presentation that detailed better ways to handle a problem facing your organization using tech? Don't wait for someone else to suggest a change. Bring your knowledge and information to your organization and you can gain new respect as a leader in your workplace.
3. Seek internal rotations. "If you have been in one job for a long time, it may be time to raise your hand to move to another role in the firm," Wilen-Daugenti suggests. Keep your finger on the pulse of your industry and try to shift into a "next generation" role – one that is likely to help propel you into a promotion, or another job. Often, positions that involve technology will help you expand your skills and make you more marketable.
4. Take classes. You can probably identify various areas where you could improve your skills. Take advantage of it if your organization is willing to pay for continuing education courses. Consider a class outside of your comfort zone.
5. Consider a degree or certification. If you're extremely motivated, go beyond the occasional class and earn a formal certificate for your efforts. For example, Wilen-Daugenti says, "A social media certificate might complement your marketing potion or an M.S. in engineering might complement your MBA."
Outside of Work
1. Seek technology vendor classes and tutoring. Some technology retailers provide free public seminars and hands-on classes to help you learn to use their products or software.
2. Join a Meetup. Most big cities have in-person technology focused Meetups open to anyone interested. Take advantage of these free or low-cost opportunities to learn about new technology.
3. Take massive online open courses, or MOOCs. Wilen-Daugenti notes: "Udacity (www.udacity.com) and Coursera (https://www.coursera.org/) are two MOOCs that offer technology courses and a variety of other classes. You can learn how to program code, develop a website or make a robotic car. Many of these courses are offered for free."
4. Learn something new on YouTube. If you haven't spent time on YouTube lately, you are probably underestimating how much you can learn from the videos people post online. Simply search "How to _____" and fill in the problem or technology question you're trying to answer. "YouTube offers a wide range of technology lectures, how to discussion and shows," Wilen-Daugenti says. "It is a place where you can learn about any software, hardware or social media."
5. Tap into social media tools. One of the best things about tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ is that they provide an unending source of opportunity to learn new things. Wilen-Daugenti explains: "Every major technology firm, media group or guru has a profile on LinkedIn or Twitter. Follow their threads so that you are in the know on what is going on in your industry."
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to reach their goals.