Keeping our Skills Sharp

We all know the old saying “Use it or lose it,” but usually it’s applied to the idea of exercising our bodies or our minds. Well, I think the same thing goes for exercising our skills as career professionals. While this is relatively easy to do when we work in the field, it can be a real challenge for people like myself; since I am currently employed outside of the career development field, I fear that my skills are becoming rusty, and wonder what I can do about it.

When I was completing my CDP studies, I had ample opportunity to practice my developing skills, and my practicum was a chance to bring together everything I had learned. However, since then I have not been able to find work in the field and have not used many of my counseling skills at all. Mostly, I have used my resume critiquing skills to help friends looking for new jobs. This lapse in practice has made me concerned that when I do find work in the field, I will have a steep learning curve as I try to remember the things I previously learned.

My question is, is there something I can be doing to keep my skills sharp as I look for that job? While it’s an excellent way to gain new knowledge about career development, simply reading articles and keeping abreast of developments in the field is not enough to ensure that my skills stay sharp. I’m looking for something that will allow me to actually use my skills and even better, add to them. Finding a volunteer role in the field is the first idea that comes to mind, but I wonder if there are other possibilities I’m neglecting. I’d love to hear from you: what other suggestions do you have for those trying to keep their skills sharp while working outside of the career development field?

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Karen Schofield
Karen Schofield, B.A., BEd., CDP is a recent graduate of the Career Development Practitioner program at Conestoga College. She previously worked as a substitute teacher, and also taught adults seeking a secondary school diploma.

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