I Want to be Your Handyman(person?): Expanding Your Skills

So here’s how I planned my career: I would go to grad school, get a degree in career development because a Master’s degree in student personnel did not provide enough information on the career planning process. I would then live happily every after counseling college students about their careers. That is not what happened. As they say, life is what happens while you are busy making plans.

The career counselor jobs were few and far between and paid less than my IT job in a college multimedia center. I did eventually work my way up to an associate director of career services position. However, a lot of the job was event planning. I hate event planning. My checklists were never comprehensive enough. Something always fells through the cracks. So I left higher ed for the recruiting industry, thinking that the experience would make me a more valuable employee when I returned to career development in higher ed. Except the recession happened, and I fast-forwarded to my planned retirement career: writing.

I can now tell you how to take apart your washer and dryer. I can instruct you as to why your sub-flooring has buckled. The ice maker on your refrigerator/freezer combo will probably work better once I tell you all the things that could be wrong with it. I could probably also relieve your panic at not being able to open the door on your self-cleaning oven. Need to figure out why your vacuum cleaner stopped in its self-propelling tracks? I could help you there too.

I did not plan to acquire these skills. My present home and garden writing job demanded that I figure these things out. If you have worked in a variety of careers or have taken on the work of downsized employees, you probably have a boatload of skills that you never expected to acquire either. However, these “extra” skills may be the ones that help you find your next job, whether you are unemployed or looking to move to a higher paid position. They may also help you to segue back onto your chosen career path. The key is to keep an open mind and take every training and new skill opportunity offered to you. It shows that you are open to learning, you have a can-do attitude and that you are flexible and willing to take on new skills to help your employer. This attitude toward learning and skill acquisition can keep you employed or at the very least make you more employable in a recession. Now if I could only figure out where my ice maker skills will take me…



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