5 Ways to Improve Your Professional Skill Set

The demands of the workforce are higher today than they’ve ever been before. For baby boomers and millennials alike, the pressure is on to amass a massive set of skills that often times go outside of your chosen field. These days it’s not good enough to just be a marketing specialist; you’re also expected to know how to do basic coding, use design applications, analyze market trends, play the banjo, and build a fire with two sticks. So the question is, what can you do to improve your marketability in today’s competitive climate?


1. Take an Online Course

This is sort of a no-brainer but I’m not talking about a college online course. There are dozens of sites that offer low-cost, instructional courses on almost anything you can imagine. For instance, Lynda.com has classes for everything under the sun, from WordPress to finance fundamentals for $25/month. I’ve personally just started learning basic HTML through codeschool.com– something that is so useful in today’s world, but that I never bothered learning in college (thanks, theatre degree).


2. Do Something That Scares You

Ok, taking a course in something that interests you is one thing; but what about improving those skills that you avoid. Maybe you have a fear of public speaking – even if it’s not relevant to your current job, working towards bettering a weakness will not only give you another marketable skill to add to your resume, but may even end up improving your overall confidence and pride in your work.


3. Talk it Out

Many companies offer mentorship programs, but those that don’t still have a wealth of assets: their current employees! Maybe there is someone in your company that holds a position that you may want to aim for in the future. Reach out to them and ask questions or for advice about how they advanced their own career. Set up weekly meetings and create goals together that you can strive for. 99% of people in management and higher positions will be happy to set aside time to share what they’ve learned with others.


4. Take Advantage

Just like with mentorship programs, a lot of companies also provide training budgets for employees to learn new skills related to their current field, or will fund a ticket to a relevant conference. You might also consider talking to your manager about getting involved with projects outside your current role. If it doesn’t disrupt your current workload, it can be a great way to immerse yourself fully into a new skill. Come up with some ideas and present them to your employer. If nothing else, they will be impressed that you took the initiative!


5. Get Excited

We all know and work with that one person who is constantly complaining or grumbling about their current situation – work or otherwise. Don’t get sucked in! Employers are far more likely to notice someone who comes to work every day with a positive attitude and enthusiasm for what they do. A positive attitude can attract interest and help you gain new opportunities. You may even notice that changing your attitude at work can also change your attitude at home. Happy work life, happy home life.



These are only a few ways that you can improve your skills, build up your resume, and open yourself to new opportunities. The greatest leaders in life are those that continue to improve themselves in every possible way. Be receptive to feedback, be it positive or negative, and learn from it. That’s the key – never stop learning.

What are some of the things you’ve done to improve your own skills?

Khuram Zaman

Khuram Zaman is the CEO of Fifth Tribe, a leading digital agency serving the Washington DC Metropolitan Area based out of the 1776 Startup Co-working Space. In his professional capacity, he has provided digital marketing services to clients as diverse as the Department of Defense, Kaiser Permanente, Oxfam America, Ernst and Young, and The Hult Prize. His writing has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, and Business2Community. Khuram is the host of the Campfire: Impact and Innovation live podcast on Youtube. In his free-time, Khuram serves as a mentor to startups through the Peace Tech Accelerator, the Halycon Incubator, and is also a Entrepreneur in Residence at Georgetown University