Acquiring Necessary Skills

Learning Objectives

  • Explain how to acquire necessary skills, both in and out of class, for your career goals

“Lifelong learning” is a buzz phrase in the twentieth-first century because we are awash in new technology and information all the time, and those who know how to learn, continuously, are in the best position to keep up and take advantage of these changes. Think of all the information resources around you: colleges and universities, libraries, the Internet, videos, games, books, films—the list goes on.

Where do the world's content strategists' skills lie? 265 surveyed content strategists were asked to indicate their abilities, knowledge, and skills by choosing from a predetermined list. Accessibility, 27%. Community management, 24%. Content analysis, 79%. Content curation, 62%. Content development, 84%. Content management, 80% Content sourcing, 49%. Creative direction, 42%. Digital marketing, 40%. Editorial strategy, 71% Information architecture, 66%. Interface design, 28%. Interaction design, 25%. Localization, 12%. Project management, 60%. Search engine optimization, 41%. Technical communication, 34%. User experience design, 51%. Web writing/editing, 86%. Other, 16%.

With these resources at your disposal, how can you best position yourself for lifelong learning and a strong, viable career? Which hard and soft skills are most important? What are employers really looking for?

The following list was inspired by the remarks of Mark Atwood, director of open-source engagement at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. It contains excellent practical advice.

  • Learn how to write clearly. After you’ve written something, have people edit it. Then rewrite it, taking into account the feedback you received. Write all the time.
  • Learn how to speak. Speak clearly on the phone and at a table. For public speaking, try Toastmasters. “Meet and speak. Speak and write.”
  • Be reachable. Publish your email so that people can contact you. Don’t worry about spam.
  • Learn about computers and computing, even if you aren’t gearing for a career in information technology. Learn something entirely new every six to twelve months.
  • Build relationships within your community. Use tools like Meetup.com and search for clubs at local schools, libraries, and centers. Then, seek out remote people around the country and world. Learn about them and their projects first by searching the Internet.
  • Attend conferences and events. This is a great way to network with people and meet them face-to-face.
  • Find a project and get involved. Start reading questions and answers, then start answering questions.
  • Collaborate with people all over the world.
  • Keep your LinkedIn profile and social media profiles up-to-date. Be findable.
  • Keep learning. Skills will often beat smarts. Be sure to schedule time for learning and having fun!

Just Get Involved

After you’ve networked with enough people and built up your reputation, your peers can connect you with job openings that may be a good fit for your skills. The video, below, from Monash University in Australia offers the following tips:

  1. Get involved in part-time work
  2. Get involved in extracurricular activities
  3. Get involved with employment and career development

“Just Get involved. There are so many opportunities and open doors for you.”

You can view the transcript for “Tips to improve your career from Monash Graduates” here (opens in new window).

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