Job Skills

It’s no secret that jobs are harder to come by than ever. The current generation is faced with a more difficult work environment than their parents, or their grandparents . You’d have to extend your search back to the 1930s to find an economic and employment situation as dire as today.

That’s the bad news. What’s the good news? Well, the generation that weathered the Great Depression saw huge advances in their economic potential — not merely compared to the Depression years, but to any previous period of American history. This means that although the next few years may be a significant struggle, the following years have every chance of making up for it.

In the short term, the single best thing that one can do is develop useful job skills with an eye on current and future trends. Sure, it sounds easy when you put it like that, but don’t go crazy.  It’s necessary to understand that the practical application is often another matter.

A quick aside here: Beyond job skills are opportunities created by advanced degrees, which often enable self employment. Rudy Allen comments that going to law school created his pathway to becoming an independent maritime lawyer in Louisiana. Of course, beyond just he degree he worked as an intern with an established law firm, but once he learned the ropes, he set out on his own and started looking for clients. Rudy is a poster child of successfully learning the ropes toward becoming a self employed professional. Hard work, long hours, you get the drill. They stand for something, no matter where or what field you chose to study.

Just remember: no learning, no training is ever wasted. Employers are looking for specific skills and experience, and now more than ever have a pool of candidates to pick and choose from. That’s fine if you’ve been doing exactly what they want for years, but chances are you’ve seen the necessity of broadening your search, which usually means that you’re applying for jobs that are ‘only sort of like’ what you’ve been doing.

Some folks will luck out and find a position that is somewhat familiar. For instance, perhaps you lost a mill job in a textile company. Getting a position in the workroom with a company that makes draperies  may not be such a stretch as would be getting a  job at an airline.  At a custom drapery / curtain company you would still be around all sorts of fabrics. If you worked sewing machines at your old job, moving into a seamstress position creating custom curtains would not be all that different. It would be the matter of learning to use high quality fabrics and materials to make the drapes to whatever exact specifications you were given. And since high end quality custom drapes are usually lined, you would have to be taught that step as well. Or you might become a “cutter” for the company, selecting the proper fabric and making sure the lengths were accurate to the custom order request. This type of transition from being laid off from one job and gaining employment in a similar field would be most fortunate.

On the other hand, the most difficult situation would find you’re just starting out with what you may think are no skills, nothing to offer aside from a basic education — or not even that much (another obvious tip: go for the next level in your education, whether it’s a high school diploma, GED, associates, bachelors, or other college degree).

No matter what your situation, no matter what your prospects seem to be, you can put yourself in a better position. It’s difficult to recognize this when you are worried about today’s rent, tomorrow’s food, and yesterday’s utility bills, but there are programs and funds set aside exactly for people in such situations.

The hardest part is often realizing that you can.

There are any number of known job skills. Just about anything you are good at you could put as a job skill. I will tell you about a skill that got me a job one time. I explained on my resume that I was good in a crisis. I explained that I received a medal of valor from the lions club because I was at one of their functions when I witnessed an automobile accident. I did not waste any time before I jumped into action. I pulled the family from the car while a crowd gathered & watched.

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