• United States
Contributing Writer

Advice from the field: Getting your skills in order

Jan 28, 20044 mins
Data Center

* Readers weigh in on the skills issue

In a recent newsletter, I argued that it’s early 2004 and you should be working to get your skills in order. You all agreed and put an exclamation point on the issue by saying that you have to speak up if you expect anyone to help.

Many of you who wrote in said you have to gather up the troops – be they managers, human resources or your coworkers – and let them in on the game plan.

One reader says, “Aren’t you missing a very important factor – making your colleagues, managers and leaders aware of your intent?  In this age of information sharing and collaboration, I don’t think increasing your personal skills is enough. You can be the brightest in your organization, but without that critical skill to build relationships and bridges horizontally and vertically, who will know what your intent is?”

I couldn’t agree more. Letting those around you know that you’re trying to improve your skill set – often for their benefit as well as your own – can only serve, in most cases, to help you. You’ll look like a team player who is committed to helping the company succeed. Play your cards right and your manager might adjust your load so you can focus on your learning or one of your peers might offer to help you study. Being vocal is a great plan to improve your educational experience.

Another reader points out that you should hop to picking your educational course for the year because you could miss out on the budget cycle.  She says: “Training budget needs to be allocated as soon as possible. You should try to align these needs immediately following your fiscal new year. I’ve seen it time and time again coming close to the end of the year, training budgets can get cut.”

This is sage advice. Waiting around to make up your mind – procrastinating – will only serve you in bad stead. Make sure you know exactly what courses you want to take and how much they will cost. Then approach your manager – giving them enough time to go to bat for you with the owner of the training budget. Put thought into making your case. Explain how taking these courses will help not only you, but also your team and the company overall. Will learning this new skill save the company money in the long run because you’ll be able to train others? Will you be able to take on more projects? Alleviate the need for an outsourcer? What are all the benefits? State them clearly and you could get your education paid for.

Finally, one reader says he’s already got the ball rolling. “Actually I started in 2003. I am currently employed as a project manager of sorts, for a large computer company. I used to be a network consultant, many moons ago. I want to get out of my current job and back into networking, but after seven years of not being in the field, I felt I needed to get back up to state of the art, and be able to show that to a prospective employer. So starting in 2003, I started self-study for network certifications. I am hoping that this will dress up my resume enough to get my foot in the door.

“I have obtained the Network+, the iNet+ and the CCNA so far. I am currently working on CCDA. Once I have [that], I want to float my resume out there and see what happens. I hope to work in the design field again. And I hope the employer will then help me get the CCDP.”

Kudos to this reader for not waiting around. Education can be expensive – we all know that. But in the long run, if it helps your resume float to the top of the pile for advancement in your company or a job change in a difficult market, it’ll be worth every penny.

Have more tips? War stories? Send ’em my way at