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Universal job skills?

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I was thinking about this the other day when I read an article claiming that technological advances are outpacing schools.  The crux of the discussion was whether or not it was worthwhile to attend a school if your skills be out of date by graduation.

When I consider the best professionals I've worked with, there are a few common traits they shared.  It occurred to me that these traits are actually skills.

At a very basic level, all of them shared an accurate perception of individual roles in the bigger picture.  This is distinctly different from just one person's opinion.  Anyone who worked with these people would notice that the consistently saw things they way they really are.  

It seems to me that instruction on how to maintain accurate perspective would be a universal job skill.

What skills would you add to the list?

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How to learn new skills---on your own!

How to evaluate information in areas you are not trained on.  (If your Dr tells you have been Elf-Shot; perhaps a second opinion is called for...)

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Well, I THINK the perception that whatever the mechanism, schools don't teach good job skills. Your perception that marketable skills are acquired SKILLS is accurate.

Marketable/learned job skills. In order of importance in MY book.

Attitude: #1, yes sir, will do. Do what you're told, the boss doesn't have to ask nicely, he is leasing your time act like it. He hasn't purchased your soul but while you're on the clock he owns your time. PERIOD. (Go ahead yell at me for using the masculine for the business. I don't give spit)

Attitude #2 PC is NOT a marketable job skill, it's a negative bargaining chip, forget PC it's a loser on the job skills list. Were I hiring and an applicant to lay ANY PC on me and I'd thank your for applying. Don't call us, I'll call you. Have a nice day.

Job skills, basic hand or office skills. If you have basic hand or office skills and pass the tests. The BUSINESS will teach you the job. 

The most important job skills are basic work ethics: Don't lie, EVER, Tattling is as bad it's nothing but trouble. show up on time, a couple/few minutes early is BETTER, Do what you're told, Don't cause trouble. leave a couple few minutes after quitting time. If you don't understand something ASK. Only ONLY raise your voice IF it's to be heard over ambient noise OR a SAFETY ISSUE. Scream loud and hard if someone is in danger!

Its EASY to make the boss happy, show up a little early, do what you're told, don't hurt people or property, leave a little late. If you make the boss happy you'll be the last to be laid off and first rehired during slow downs and never fired.

The keep the Boss happy attitude has gotten me and kept me in jobs I wasn't qualified for, in one instance the Boss found something I could do while laying off most of the work force. And NO brown nosing is NOT a plus, I didn't and don't. 

That's my main list.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I agree with Frosty.  I've been there too.  Being a moldable employee is always a good thing.  Be willing to change your point of view or methods of doing things if what you have been doing isn't working.

These employability skills are infinitely transferable.

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Frosty is absolutely accurate in his list. I have been a worker bee and a supervisor/boss.

The only thing I have to add is when working for someone, have the attitude of, I'll show what I can do and you will pay me what I'm worth. That attitude always worked for me as far as raises and promotions. Unfortunately too many now a days have the attitude of you pay me what I'm worth and I'll show what I can do.

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2 minutes ago, Irondragon Forge & Clay said:

I can do and you will pay me what I'm worth.

It's funny how some things are so ingrained you don't think you need to say them and I didn't include compensation in  my list. :o

I've always felt if my current employer didn't pay what I'm worth someone else will. I NEVER stopped looking for a job, I traded paycheck for benefits when held onto the State job as long as I did. I turned down job offers on a regular basis, a couple stunners. 

I just deleted a long story that doesn't really have a place here. You can feel lucky today gang. :)

Frosty The Lucky.

 

 

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2 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

How to evaluate information in areas you are not trained on. 

This is a good one.  Lots of wisdom can come from individuals with difficult personalities.  

Another application of this idea is to avoid the rookie mistake of repeating bad information.  

This reminded me of another universal job skill.

Develop effective ways to check your work. 

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“Duties as assigned” is always good to keep in your head, and do an A1 job. I always did what I was asked and did the job right. I did refuse to do inferior work on more than a few accessions and was willing to walk in the face of disrespectful bosses. There is a difference between being told what to do, and being dressed down or being micromanaged and treated like crap. 

 

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Be of value. If it's an unskilled job show up early don't leave till the job is done. BE RELIABLE. Come in when they call on your day off and show up every day your scheduled. Perfect attendance is a good way to get a raise. 

If it's a skilled job learn everything you can about it. Be the most knowledgeable about the job and it will pay off. Everything I said about unskilled work applies here too. It's surprising how hard it is to find reliable employees that actually show up. Where I work we can't find a person that can do the job right AND shows up every shift. It seems like If they are good at the job they don't want to show up and if they can barely do the work they show up ever day and do a poor job. 

Be professional. I can't tell you how many times I see people dressed inappropriately at work or doing things that just seem unprofessional. It's an epidemic.

These are basic common sense things that should be apparent but it's surprising how common it is. When I went to school we had a class called life skills that taught basic things like those mentioned above. I don't know if schools still teach these things but it sure doesn't seem like it.

Pnut

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19 hours ago, Charles R. Stevens said:

“Duties as assigned” is always good to keep in your head, and do an A1 job. I always did what I was asked and did the job right.

Been there more than once.  I was once at a job where it seemed like it was more "duties as assigned" than duties that the job was posted for.  Not at that place anymore, found a better place, with a much better work environment.

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Irondragon, Frosty, pnut, MrTMichaud,

You've all mentioned situations where the value of the work wasn't adequately rewarded in wages (or opportunity).

A long time ago I read an excellent article about job hunting where the author made a wonderful observation about job offers.  Job offers are a statement of what the employer thinks of your worth.  "Low-ball" offers consistently come from terrible employers because their underlying assumption is that you're worth less than the work you're doing.  When I applied that to my life, it was amazing how consistent that turned out to be.  I've never had a good boss who "low-balled" my wage.

Perhaps the universal job skill here, is to recognize what drives a bad deal?

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I think that life skill falls under "accurate situational evaluation." No matter where you are or what you're doing you have to " accurately (Perhaps "adequate is a better adverb?) evaluate your situation, from napping in the shade to flying a space shuttle you have to evaluate the current and anticipate the future. Tree shade moves with the sun and napping in the sun has consequences. A relatively low consequence lesson.

This skill set isn't someone else's responsibility. If a person doesn't have it as a well developed skill they can't be a very good employee or boss. Well "entry level" jobs are one place a person learns evaluation / anticipation skills. Entry level jobs are NOT worth "living wages" they're paying class rooms, not careers. Teaching people entry level jobs, (burger flippers in fast food joints) deserve career level wages is a LIE PERIOD. Adequate skills recognizing a BAD DEAL would have the "students" laughing at whoever is trying to sell the idea as an obvious con job. Nobody I grew up with saw Jack in the Box or MacDonalds as anything but pocket money till they found a good job.

It's a life skill more than a job skill. but good life skills translate directly to the job market.

No?

Frosty The Lucky.

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Be open minded, and willing to learn.

I went to school to be a machinist. I have worked as a machinist/tool maker, machine and fab shop owner in my 20's, foundry work, automotive lift tech, gunsmith, all around plant maintenance (Jelly Belly Candy Co., commercial bread bakery, and currently a snack cracker plant), warehouse---surplus and new machine gun parts. I went where the paycheck was and learned a lot more skills on the job; plumbing, electrical, boilers, pneumatics, hydraulics, casting, induction units, etc.. As a result I am pretty confident I can keep working when others are laid off due to my mental tool box. But I still yearn to be self employed again. Once you have had a taste of that freedom it is hard to not want it again.

Now for a universal job... I had considered being an auctioneer. Working when times are good, and bad. I watch one auctioneer go from everyday guy to multimillionaire ($30+) in 15 years, and that was back around 2004.

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Altho this applies primarily to being an employee, It also applies to the self employed. 

Be your own worst critic. Tear each finished job apart mentally and find both your strengths and weaknesses.

Recognize that there are no weaknesses. These are just techniques better used in a different application. 

Study others work as well as every other source from old iron, books, workshops, 

Understand your medium and develop a personal ethic to define this medium.

Recognize the fine line between evolving this ethic and compromising it for any reason. Once you understand this, chose wisely  to enhance the moment. This is the hard one.

 

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Frosty, you're making good points as usual.  I do think that there's a bit of nuance to seeing both sides that nobody teaches in terms of the value of labor, and the value of an opportunity.  I'm not sure it's really feasible to develop an accurate perspective without guidance, or a lot of frustrating experience.  

A friend of the family is a stay at home mom who is one of the most intelligent and hard working individuals I know.  One day she was bitterly complaining about entry-level wages and how they wouldn't allow her to contribute much to the household.  I pointed out that her intelligence and work ethic are not "entry level". An employment gap isn't the same thing as no experience.

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Well I now will get to try some of this out; and probably let my passport card cool down a bit. Boss flew down today to tell me that the workload has dropped such that we didn't need 2 Engineers down here. Business reasons; I'm categorized as "rehireable' by the company.  Guess I did a good job training the new guy!

So any leads for a Software Engineer with 30 years working in UNIX environments?

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Anvil,

Your comments remind me of a few things. 

Aim at what you can hit.  Chasing every opportunity simply because it exists is an excellent way to squander your shot at all the opportunities.

More businesses go out of business because of the bad job(s) they won, than any number of good jobs they lost.  Be selective about who you work for.

14 minutes ago, anvil said:

Recognize that there are no weaknesses. These are just techniques better used in a different application.

I see where you're coming from in terms of positive thinking, but in business, there are serious ramifications to biting off more than you can chew.  

For what it's worth, I've met quite a few ethically weak people who are experts at explaining why their dishonest "techniques" are necessary.  It's been my experience that no single factor is more likely to ruin a human endeavor than dishonesty.

 

 

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When was the last time you updated your resume?  

You should have at least two or three current resumes. One as a general work history, one for the ideal job you would like, and one for that "out there" job you want. Keep a crisp copy of each in an envelope in the glove box of the car. Have a set of business cards with your name and phone number printed up and put one inside each envelope, a supply of cards in the car, and a couple of the cards in your wallet.  When the opportunity makes itself available you want to be ready and leave your contact information with an interested party.  Much better than saying "hold that thought, I will be back in a couple of weeks with my information".  Think of it as real time TPAAAT.

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Vista Print and a more modern Resume template are on my schedule for tomorrow.  Also buying a new computer. 

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8 hours ago, Charles R. Stevens said:

Sorry to here you are payed off. Are you sure the missus is ready to have you underfoot? 

 

Wives are never ready for us to be "underfoot."  My FIL is retiring this summer/fall (he needs to figure it out) and my MIL is anticipating it.  Then again he is a curmudgeon of the highest order.  Self-employed Master Electrician/electric motor repair/auto radiator repair and rebuild.  He's been doing this type of work for 50+ years.  His body is ready for retirement, but his mind /heart isn't quite there yet.

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I'm 4 years away from being able to retire and really need to maintain health insurance---diabetes the gift that keeps on giving...So my Daughter wants me to look for a job in Albuquerque and stay at her place...

As for computers, I thought I would see what the employee discount will get me.  I want to run Linux on it and my old desktop tower is having trouble inscribing cuneiform tablets anymore...

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Thomas,

One thing that might be worthy of your consideration is a concept called the "pain letter".  The idea is that once you find a company that's in need of your services, you write a letter to whoever would be your direct manager.  The letter should identify the "pain" that said manager is enduring, in such a way as to present your abilities as the relief for their pain.

It's vital to understand that this is geared towards generating a need where one didn't previously exist.  I encountered this concept by reading articles from a "thought leader" in human resources.  Basically all of their advice is geared towards working around human resources, because the "formal hiring process" in most companies is dysfunctional.

Another thing to consider is to do a deep dive into your contacts.  Reach out to absolutely everyone you know.  Some business analysts suggests that only a fraction of the total job openings are ever visible to the public.  Many managers are allowed to hire a referral directly without involving HR.  Even if your contact only tips you off to a potential lead, it's still infinitely superior to spending your days uploading resumes to robotic HR programs that then require you to manually enter everything that was on your resume again.  

 

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