Even as recently as a few decades ago, the concept of a job for life still existed, and people who were “jacks of all trades” were looked down upon.

If you think back to your days at school, there’s a good chance that you were told to decide what you wanted to do, and get good at it.


If you were great at math, but a bit useless at woodwork, I bet your teachers and careers advisers encouraged you to focus on maths and related subjects, saying “Being sort-of OK at woodwork won’t help you get a job”.

Back then, they were probably right, but in today’s economic climate, being an all-rounder can be a good thing.

Granted, there’s probably not much demand for accountants that can cook, but if you’re an accountant that’s also a wizard with databases and can code a half-decent system to help your clients record transactions better, then that extra skill definitely falls into the category of “Extra value” for your clients.

Future Proofing Your CV

One of the biggest challenges faced by modern workers is staying relevant. The skills you learn when you’re going through training will be valuable when you graduate, but new processes, paradigms, and technologies are being developed all the time.

Your skill with welding rotators might be useful now, but what about all the computer-aided welding equipment that’s coming out these days? Teenagers that are going through apprenticeship courses now will be learning about flow-jet machines and computer-aided welding equipment.

If you want to future-proof your job, you should make an effort to expand your skill set too.

Don’t Water Down Your Skills

The difficult part is finding the balance between cross-training, and watering down your skills. You should aim to find skills that work well together, and that play into your strengths.

If you’re a system’s administrator that specializes in Linux and Unix based systems, it’s not much of a stretch to learn some telecoms systems, or to take a course to learn about Windows and Novell. If you’re a welder, you can expand your knowledge beyond welding rotators and stick welding to learn MIG, TIG, and related processes.

Earning That Piece of Paper

If you’ve been with the same employer for a while, it’s easy to feel that your skills speak for themselves, however, you’ll soon regret that decision if you do lose your job.

When you’re hunting for a new job, experience is valuable, but being able to back that experience up with a piece of paper is incredibly useful. Depending on the industry you’re in, some employers will take your word for it when you say you have certain skills, but others will want to test you, or to see proof.

It’s worth approaching your employer to see if they are willing to fund official training in another skill set as part of your career development plan. Don’t talk about this in terms of how it will benefit you, rather highlight how it will benefit the company by helping you to ensure you’re employing best practices, and making you more efficient at your job.

If money is tight, they may not be able to fund the entire course. In that case, if you can afford to fund it yourself, see if they’ll help you fit the course in around your work. Most employers love people that are willing to show initiative and improve their skills.