Improve Critical Skills: The First Step in Your Career Plan

improve critical skillsRecently, an overseas client contacted me who was in the planning stages of moving back to the U.S. Specifically, he was wondering about how to make the transition back to the American job market. I suggested that he start reviewing U.S.-based job openings to get a sense of what the requirements are. Then take the time to sign up for courses or conferences (if possible) to improve critical skills.

Of course, this advice didn’t apply to only him. Taking the time to improve critical skills is an excellent idea, for every job seeker.

Job seekers must review what employers are looking for, exactly. Then they must take the time to strategically add the types of desired skills that boosts one’s candidacy. The job seeker that does this gains a huge competitive edge.

Of course, it is important to remember that no one person is 100% qualified to do any job. So don’t overtax yourself in your earnest attempts to improve critical skills.

Instead, try these tips:

Read Job Descriptions

Parse out what skill sets you don’t possess, then find an industry organization or training business that provides those skills… and sign up. Examples are workshops, trainings, webinars and seminars. Also conferences, conventions, corporate learning universities, industry certifications and so on.

Put Skills to Work

Once you have gained the knowledge of HOW to do the skill? The next step is to start putting those skills into immediate action. So consider volunteering within your industry. Or lead projects at your school or alumni association. By participating actively on projects, you can gain direct, hands-on experience that translates directly into viable experience.

Conduct Informational Interviews

Meet with contacts within your target field. Ask them what soft skills are needed to do the job. Oftentimes, employers are so focused on providing the task-based hard skills, they forget the softer skills. Understanding what those skills helps you stand out above others competing for the same job opening.

The more you take time to improve critical skills, the better your career plan will be. Because you’ll already have the tools you need when your dream job comes open.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Pathfinder.




Dawn Rasmussen 3About the Author: Dawn Rasmussen, CMP is President of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services, a provider of results-oriented résumé, cover letter, and job search coaching services. Dawn is also the official “Get the Job” columnist for One+ Magazine distributed to over 26,000 meeting professionals worldwide and, a job resource site for creative and marketing professionals. Dawn is also a career expert on – a top 10 world-ranked career advice blog. Follow Dawn on Twitter!



This entry was posted in Job Search and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.