- Take a course. If you can hardly remember the last time you took notes in class or studied for a test, it’s time to sharpen your pencils. Find a relevant course at a local university or community college and enlist support from your employer regarding tuition and/or schedule flexibility. Let them know that this investment will pay off for them once you’ve completed your training and received your grade, degree, or certification.
- Connect with the right people. Off the top of your head, how many people do you know who are better than you are at what you do best? If you can’t think of anyone, it means you aren’t really looking (or you aren’t trying hard enough). There are always people near you who are better than you at any skill you care to name. Look past your ego and find them. Become close to them. Watch them carefully. Ask them for guidance and advice.
- Join an open source or online community. Open source communities offer programmers an inexpensive way to learn new coding languages. So if this is what you do, approach the administrator of an open source project you admire and ask politely for access. Or grab some of the code for the project and try to fix a few bugs on your own. This same principle applies to almost any profession. Find an online community of experts, enter their ranks, and earn their respect and trust.
- Ask for responsibilities that push your boundaries. If your boss already knows exactly what kinds of projects you can handle and what tasks are better handed to someone else, respectfully challenge those expectations. Ask for responsibilities, including public speaking or leadership opportunities that make you nervous. If you can’t step outside your comfort zone voluntarily, ask to be pushed.
The best way to thrive in your position is to bring so much value to your job that your employers can’t even imagine trying to replace you. If the very idea of someone else sitting in your chair is simply inconceivable, you’re on the right track. And if everyone feels a little more relaxed and energized when you walk into the room, that’s even better.You may find yourself stepping into a perfect rhythm sometime after you accept your new position and begin to master the basic skills this job requires. But once every task you face becomes second nature, don’t let your sense of efficiency and security lull you into a hardened routine. Just because you can do this job in your sleep doesn’t mean it’s time to drift off.In fact, it means the opposite. If you aren’t scrambling to attain new skills and expand your comfort zone, the value you bring to the job may stay stationary while the position and company expand. Don’t let this happen.Expand Your Skill SetsHere are four ways to keep your skills sharp and your value high: