Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

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Topic Author
Calico
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Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by Calico » Fri May 03, 2019 9:08 am

I currently work at a non-profit trade association for a specific industry as a manager (we are pretty small and literally have three levels admin, managers, the executive director). I really think the industry my non-profit serves is going to the computers. It's slowly been doing that anyway, but machines are getting better exponentially at doing the work. They can do it faster than any person and now they seem to do the job better as well. I worry about the future of the profession.

I love where I work and I like our customers, but I have to wonder if I will have a job in five years as machine replace people and people drop out of the association (AKA we lose customers).

So I am trying to plan ahead. Plan A is, "what can my non-profit do to help our customers find a niche and keep their professions in spite of technology. What can they do to use this technology to their benefit?" But if that fails, plan B is I need to make sure I am ready to move to another workplace.

For plan B, it seems that the top ranked skills employers are looking for are people skills (which I seem to have in spades. I am always getting commendations from customer and management alike for customer service and such). I also have a reputation as a problem solver who can think out of the box--I am asked to help brainstorm all the time. I also have certification in non-profit management (although if I seek work elsewhere, I am going to look beyond non-profits).

But I think I lack strong technology skills for the 21st century. Currently, we are very low tech at the workplace. I would say we are in the late 1990's technology-wise (our database is 25 years old for example). I've started listening in on free webinars and trying to learn new skills and try to figure out what is needed, but it seems like every "new" technology is hot and the thing to know. It's starting to feel overwhelming. I would like to know, from those of you who are working in 21st century workplaces, what are the technology skills most needed/most sought after? I would like to find one or two skills I can work on, build, maybe earn certifications/become an expert on if possible, and use to help with my plan A and help my current employer, but also have in place in case I need to go to plan B and make myself more marketable to other employers.

If it helps, two things that caught my eye were Amazon Web Services and Salesforce.

Edit for clarification:

I don't work "in" the industry that's dying. I work at a place that works "for" the industry that's dying.

I don't want to give out personal information since I am writing about the possibility of leaving my employer, so I will use a similar industry.

Let's say I work for the American Bank Tellers Association. Our customers would be Bank Tellers and we would provide things for them such as industry news, training, job searching functions, certifications, a member magazine, networking capabilities, etc. No one who works in the Bank Tellers Association office is a bank teller, we are meeting planners, volunteer coordinators, magazine editors, member services, accountants, social media outreach and webmaster, an IT person, etc, etc.

My industry in this case isn't bank telling. It's working at a non-profit trade association. There are such organizations that serve all sorts of industries (American Medical Association, Snack Food Manufactures Association, Project Management Institute, American Dental Association, etc).

It's the bank telling industry that is dying. There are less and less brick and mortar banks and there are less and less tellers at those banks. People are using online banking and ATMs (the computers). My own bank doesn't even have tellers. Everything a teller would have done you now do online or at an ATM. There are loan officers though.

The industry my association represents is similar. Computer programs (in some cases free online programs) can do the work faster and just as well. Some of it is offshore now as well. I've seen our membership (number of people in the industry) drop from 12,000 when I started to 8,000 as of this year. No one has been laid off at my association office, but as people leave, they aren't replaced. It's becoming an bigger and bigger concern for our volunteer board.

I may need a new job in a few years. I have the people skills and the team player skills. I lack computer skills. I feel like I am behind. Sure, I can use my computer, Word, Excel, and our database. But that's it. I want to know what skills I should hone to make myself more valuable. I know what other non-profits want (people who know how to use AMS Systems and that's Salesforce) but I don't know that I want to stay with a non-profit either. Non-profits are very work/life balance friendly but for profits pay better and have better benefits. In three years, my daughter is off to college and I am alone (I am divorced). I don't need as much work/life balance to work around school schedules, band practice, track practice, being a band mom or PTA mom, etc. But what do mainstream business want? What are they looking for?

By the way, I am talking to friends and such too. I have a few friends who are in the government contracting business as project managers and I plan on getting their take this weekend at our get together. I have two friends who work for the federal government as well, but they are both "boots on the ground" federal law enforcement and I don't know if they would know what white collar skills are needed. Anyway, I am asking here because I am trying to gather as much information as possible.
Last edited by Calico on Fri May 03, 2019 10:58 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Watty
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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by Watty » Fri May 03, 2019 9:52 am

Calico wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 9:08 am
I really think the industry my non-profit serves is going to the computers.

plan B is I need to make sure I am ready to move to another workplace.
I am a retired computer programmer and I spend about 35 years doing software development in one form or another. For maybe the last 15 years of my career I still did technical work but my knowledge of my industry and company specific knowledge was more valuable than my technical skills.

It sounds like your industry is not going away like buggy whip manufacturers, it is just changing.

The first thing I would look at is which companies are doing the computer work in that field and then try to get a job with one of those companies. Your industry knowledge, management skills, and industry contacts could still be valuable and they could train you on the technical stuff that you need to know.

You may already have contacts with those companies so you could sound them out about opportunities with those companies. I have seen situations where actively recruiting people that you had professional contacts with was discouraged because it could look inappropriate, but once someone made the first move in asking about work they were then fair game.

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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by dknightd » Fri May 03, 2019 9:53 am

Watty wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 9:52 am
Calico wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 9:08 am
I really think the industry my non-profit serves is going to the computers.

plan B is I need to make sure I am ready to move to another workplace.
I am a retired computer programmer and I spend about 35 years doing software development in one form or another. For maybe the last 15 years of my career I still did technical work but my knowledge of my industry and company specific knowledge was more valuable than my technical skills.

It sounds like your industry is not going away like buggy whip manufacturers, it is just changing.

The first thing I would look at is which companies are doing the computer work in that field and then try to get a job with one of those companies. Your industry knowledge, management skills, and industry contacts could still be valuable and they could train you on the technical stuff that you need to know.

You may already have contacts with those companies so you could sound them out about opportunities with those companies. I have seen situations where actively recruiting people that you had professional contacts with was discouraged because it could look inappropriate, but once someone made the first move in asking about work they were then fair game.
good advice!

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Calico
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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by Calico » Fri May 03, 2019 10:53 am

I appreciate the answers, but I don't think I explained myself well. I am going to put this in my original post as well for any new comers.

I don't work "in" the industry that's dying. I work at a place that works "for" the industry that's dying.

I don't want to give out personal information since I am writing about the possibility of leaving my employer, so I will use a similar industry.

Let's say I work for the American Bank Tellers Association. Our customers would be Bank Tellers and we would provide things for them such as industry news, training, job searching functions, certifications, a member magazine, networking capabilities, etc. No one who works in the Bank Tellers Association office is a bank teller, we are meeting planners, volunteer coordinators, magazine editors, member services, accountants, social media outreach and webmaster, an IT person, etc, etc.

My industry in this case isn't bank telling. It's working at a non-profit trade association. There are such organizations that serve all sorts of industries (American Medical Association, Snack Food Manufactures Association, Project Management Institute, American Dental Association, etc).

It's the bank telling industry that is dying. There are less and less brick and mortar banks and there are less and less tellers at those banks. People are using online banking and ATMs (the computers). My own bank doesn't even have tellers. Everything a teller would have done you now do online or at an ATM. There are loan officers though.

The industry my association represents is similar. Computer programs (in some cases free online programs) can do the work faster and just as well. Some of it is offshore now as well. I've seen our membership (number of people in the industry) drop from 12,000 when I started to 8,000 as of this year. No one has been laid off at my association office, but as people leave, they aren't replaced. It's becoming an bigger and bigger concern for our volunteer board.

I may need a new job in a few years. I have the people skills and the team player skills. I lack computer skills. I feel like I am behind. Sure, I can use my computer, Word, Excel, and our database. But that's it. I want to know what skills I should hone to make myself more valuable. I know what other non-profits want (people who know how to use AMS Systems and that's Salesforce) but I don't know that I want to stay with a non-profit either. Non-profits are very work/life balance friendly but for profits pay better and have better benefits. In three years, my daughter is off to college and I am alone (I am divorced). I don't need as much work/life balance to work around school schedules, band practice, track practice, being a band mom or PTA mom, etc. But what do mainstream business want? What are they looking for?

By the way, I am talking to friends and such too. I have a few friends who are in the government contracting business as project managers and I plan on getting their take this weekend at our get together. I have two friends who work for the federal government as well, but they are both "boots on the ground" federal law enforcement and I don't know if they would know what white collar skills are needed. Anyway, I am asking here because I am trying to gather as much information as possible.

DonIce
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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by DonIce » Fri May 03, 2019 11:01 am

The skills you need depend on the job that you're after. You'll have to be more specific about what future role you envision for yourself. Once you've defined that well enough, it should clarify the important skills needed for that role.

passionit
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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by passionit » Fri May 03, 2019 11:30 am

I would advise to explore project management field if you are good at people management and task management and good communication skills.
You can also get PMO certification which adds value.

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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by Dottie57 » Fri May 03, 2019 11:40 am

Many jobs require skills in excel spreadsheets.
Database - mysql, oracle, progesssql, etc.
many times a database with sql is used to export data for excel spreadsheets.

I’ve taken classes at udemy.com.

They have frequent sales and you can pick up exell classesfor under $15.

Since I don’t know what you are talking about n terms of work, this is all I have.

Topic Author
Calico
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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by Calico » Fri May 03, 2019 12:10 pm

I probably could use some Excel classes. I can only use what others have set up. I've never been able to make my own spreadsheets.

I suppose part of my problem is what I do currently is not the norm (even within non-profits) and I am working with technology 25 years behind. It's hard for me define what I do to equate it to other jobs. Even at other non-profits, what I do now is often done by a handful of people who are more specialized. I am a Jill of a lot of jobs but master of none. Basically, I manage a handful of the member benefit programs and organize some of our volunteer programs. I suppose, in a round about way, I am a self taught project manager of sorts. I just never thought of myself as one (I was thrust into my current job because when my predecessor left, the members (customers) asked for me to be put in his place. I didn't apply and had no experience).

I will also look into PMI's certifications (I know they have a few). Maybe pursuing one of those would get me up to speed.

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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by CascadiaSoonish » Fri May 03, 2019 12:29 pm

It's a little hard to answer without knowing more about the specific industry, as an understanding of industry-specific trends would help tailor the advice. I've seen a couple of respected current technologies mentioned here (AWS, SalesForce) but it wouldn't do any good to recommend a tech if the corner of the industry using it is doomed.

What I will say is that people skills + data analytical skills aren't going out of style anywhere right now. So I'd suggest looking underneath the changes to see what you aspects of tech / automation are driving the change and then go that way. In your bank teller example, ATMs and online banking are changing the brick-and-mortar banking world, financial startups are changing the way we interact with financial systems, and everyone is trying to figure out what crypto is going to do. So I'd look first at those underlying trends, identify the 2-3 practice areas you think show promise (based on your industry experience) and then find out who is doing interesting work in that area. Places like HackerNews are good to get a sense for tech-centric perspectives on business trends. *Then* find out what tech they're using so that you can update your tech skills to match their current practice. It wouldn't do any good to go down the path of, say, Tableau and PMP if your target industry firms are all homebrew + D3 and Agile.

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Calico
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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by Calico » Fri May 03, 2019 1:09 pm

CascadiaSoonish wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 12:29 pm
It's a little hard to answer without knowing more about the specific industry, as an understanding of industry-specific trends would help tailor the advice. I've seen a couple of respected current technologies mentioned here (AWS, SalesForce) but it wouldn't do any good to recommend a tech if the corner of the industry using it is doomed.

What I will say is that people skills + data analytical skills aren't going out of style anywhere right now. So I'd suggest looking underneath the changes to see what you aspects of tech / automation are driving the change and then go that way. In your bank teller example, ATMs and online banking are changing the brick-and-mortar banking world, financial startups are changing the way we interact with financial systems, and everyone is trying to figure out what crypto is going to do. So I'd look first at those underlying trends, identify the 2-3 practice areas you think show promise (based on your industry experience) and then find out who is doing interesting work in that area. Places like HackerNews are good to get a sense for tech-centric perspectives on business trends. *Then* find out what tech they're using so that you can update your tech skills to match their current practice. It wouldn't do any good to go down the path of, say, Tableau and PMP if your target industry firms are all homebrew + D3 and Agile.
Thanks for the tips. I will check out HackerNews. I am just trying to figure out what business use now and what skills are needed. For example, someone mentioned that business are using SQL as databases. That's good to know so I can familiarize myself with it. I don't need to be a power user, but I would like to be able to know what it is and how to use it.

I just want to stress again that I am not in the industry in question that is dying, it just employs me indirectly. I am not the bank teller in my example. I am someone who has a job because the bank tellers have jobs. So the industry and its trends don't matter to me per say. It's like if a big bank where a bunch of tellers worked shut down because the bank is closing it's brick and mortar branches to go online. In this example, I work at a company that wrote a newsletter about bank telling for the bank tellers (again, not a teller myself). Well, if there are no bank tellers, they aren't buying the newsletter and I am out of work. I need to find another client to sell newsletters too (in my case find a new non-profit to work for) or find a different job all together. I am not looking for a job in bank telling.

I work in the non-profit industry and can work at a non-profit that serves any other industry. My problem is my workplace is behind in technology (like I said, we are using 25-year-old software). When I go to non-profit webinars and conferences, I am lost because I don't understand the basics. Most other associations are using version 2.0 and 3.0 of something we never used 1.0 of. So I am behind the times if I have to leave. I want to start working on my skills so I am better prepared if we downsize. I am working on my own for what non-profits want, but I also want to consider leaving the lower paying non-profit world and getting something more lucrative.

If this helps give any kind of perspective I've worked at associations for Mortgage Origination, A Convention and Vistor's Bureau (which is a type of association or at least the flip side since that's where associations have conventions), Industrial Hygiene, Food Service Workers, and now my current association for "Bank Tellers." I was never a mortgage originator, industrial hygienist, food service worker, or a bank teller. I am a non-profit program manager of sorts.
Last edited by Calico on Fri May 03, 2019 1:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

CascadiaSoonish
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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by CascadiaSoonish » Fri May 03, 2019 1:33 pm

For example, someone mentioned that business are using SQL as databases. That's good to know so I can familiarize myself with it.
That's a good place to start -- though you'll probably want to get a little more specific. SQL world ranges from older enterprise stuff (Oracle) to the new shiny (NoSQL) so it's good to know what to target. So yeah, definitely work backwards from the tech environments and stacks typically used in your target industries and businesses.

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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Fri May 03, 2019 1:46 pm

Start with Excel PivotTables.

Everything else comes after.

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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by celia » Fri May 03, 2019 2:06 pm

Calico wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 12:10 pm
I probably could use some Excel classes. I can only use what others have set up. I've never been able to make my own spreadsheets.
I understand where you are coming from, but not where you are heading. You seem to have good writing skills, but you definitely need to work on Excel skills, even if you end up using it only for your personal needs. (I've built an inventory of books I own, travel itineraries, to-do lists, address books, genealogy ideas I need to research with the places to look, and lists of plants that can grow in my native plant yard all in Excel as well as my finances.) Besides taking online classes, buy "Excel for Dummies" which will help you get over the hurdle of starting a file from scratch. It also has some humorous pictures throughout so I don't find it boring at all. You don't need to work through the entire book, but can stop when the features being practiced seem like they will have no practical use for you. (Or try them anyways to see if you can find a practical use, especially at your current job which will be valuable experience. When I was working on my masters in IT at night, I had to take classes for which I saw no practical need, yet sometime during each semester, I made use of things I had just learned in class, in my day job.)
I suppose part of my problem is what I do currently is not the norm (even within non-profits) and I am working with technology 25 years behind. It's hard for me define what I do to equate it to other jobs. Even at other non-profits, what I do now is often done by a handful of people who are more specialized.
Even though you are thinking of leaving, if you can come up with a new (or improved?) spreadsheet or update a procedure (process) to make your organization run more efficiently, you will have an example(s) for your next job interview that show(s) your value to an organization. So use your current job as a way to practice and use some new skills you are learning.

Calico wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 9:08 am
So I am trying to plan ahead. Plan A is, "what can my non-profit do to help our customers find a niche and keep their professions in spite of technology. What can they do to use this technology to their benefit?" But if that fails, plan B is I need to make sure I am ready to move to another workplace.
If your trade organization can't think of ways to keep the "industry" alive, I don't see how you can either. It doesn't even make sense for you to become "one of them" (a bank teller, in this case) knowing what you know.
For plan B, it seems that the top ranked skills employers are looking for are people skills (which I seem to have in spades. I am always getting commendations from customer and management alike for customer service and such). I also have a reputation as a problem solver who can think out of the box--I am asked to help brainstorm all the time. I also have certification in non-profit management (although if I seek work elsewhere, I am going to look beyond non-profits).
These are great skills but they don't translate very easily to resume points. You need to have something in addition to this to offer a new employer.
Let's say I work for the American Bank Tellers Association. Our customers would be Bank Tellers and we would provide things for them such as industry news, training, job searching functions, certifications, a member magazine, networking capabilities, etc. No one who works in the Bank Tellers Association office is a bank teller, we are meeting planners, volunteer coordinators, magazine editors, member services, accountants, social media outreach and webmaster, an IT person, etc, etc.
This part sounds related to HR duties. Would you like to recruit for a company, help weed out potential employees who don't match the needed criteria, and work with employee benefits? Every company of any size has an HR department and the experience gained here would be transferable form a company in one industry to a company in another industry.

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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by celia » Fri May 03, 2019 2:11 pm

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 1:46 pm
Start with Excel PivotTables.

Everything else comes after.
I wouldn't start here. (I don't even know how to do this although Excel makes it easy.) This is a more advanced concept, where I think OP needs to start from scratch in building her own personal spreadsheets so the easy concepts can be learned first. This is like suggesting someone learn to make an index for a long document in a word processor when they don't yet know how to open a new document and type the first sentence.

I'm not saying creating an index is not important, but that it is not a basic skill. (Knowing how to create that and a Table of Contents in a word processor would also be good skills for OP to learn, if needed.)

HEDGEFUNDIE
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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Fri May 03, 2019 2:18 pm

celia wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 2:11 pm
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 1:46 pm
Start with Excel PivotTables.

Everything else comes after.
I wouldn't start here. (I don't even know how to do this although Excel makes it easy.) This is a more advanced concept, where I think OP needs to start from scratch in building her own personal spreadsheets so the easy concepts can be learned first.
Excel has hundreds of functions. Where should the OP start?

PivotTables allow you to produce insights from data, and if the data needs to be manipulated to be PivotTable-friendly, then you would learn those functions along the way.

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Calico
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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by Calico » Fri May 03, 2019 2:46 pm

Maybe I should just get Excel for Dummies (or the equivalent). Or perhaps YouTube is a good start. I am also going to have to get Excel on my home computer somehow (it's a Mac). I figured I need to do this on my time and days off since I really don't use Excel in my day-to-day work.

I am still thinking of Salesforce though too. It seems to be taking over the non-profit world. And one can learn it for free.

And I am so glad someone gets me when I say I work at a non-profit trade association, not in the industry itself. Thanks Celia! And yes, I think you are right. I can't save the industry my association serves. I would like to try to use whatever skills I start acquiring to help, but that's probably pie-in-the-sky. Change just doesn't happen at my workplace or with our members (hence the 25-year-old technology). And it's not just the tech, it's the culture. Our members are great people and I really like my fellow staff, it would be wonderful to be able to stay put. I just don't think staying is a long-term reality though. I can foresee staff cuts happening in about 4-5 years. I actually bring in revenue (before I took over and streamlined things, what are now my projects were in the negative). So I might be able to hang on for a while, but not forever if things go under.

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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by SeekingAPlan » Fri May 03, 2019 4:10 pm

I have worked in private industry and at a non-profit association. I was hired by the non-profit to help update their technology by searching for a new AMS and then converting from the old systems to the new. Based on the people I met doing that project, very few people moved between the non-profits and private industry. Most who did where in HR, Accounting or IT.

These days most HR people and hiring managers are looking for someone who has already done the exact job they are looking to fill. This is safest for them as you are then most likely to be able to understand and start to solve their problems almost immediately. I would recommend using your association skills to transition to a different non-profit that is using current technology. Then, if you still want to move to another industry, you will be able to sell your newly updated tech skills to the new employer.

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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by yangtui » Fri May 03, 2019 5:34 pm

Learn to work off of multiple monitors and never use the printer except to scan stuff. Being able to troubleshoot basic IT issues is super important as well. Boning up on Excel, Word, Outlook, and Powerpoint is a good idea.

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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by slyfox1357 » Fri May 03, 2019 5:51 pm

Like others have mentioned, learning the Microsoft Office Suite is a very good idea. You can self-learn, but why, take a class. Look around, your local college may have night classes, etc...they are well worth it to learn the basics.

Bigger picture, how about a career in Project Management, Information Security, and Business Continuity Management? These are all industry agnostic and partner/layer well with almost any IT background. They all have their own specific learning paths but think classes and certifications. If you have a 1-2 years runway, being learned in these could be a good path to go down to finish your career.

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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by boogiehead » Fri May 03, 2019 5:52 pm

Calico wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 2:46 pm
Maybe I should just get Excel for Dummies (or the equivalent). Or perhaps YouTube is a good start. I am also going to have to get Excel on my home computer somehow (it's a Mac). I figured I need to do this on my time and days off since I really don't use Excel in my day-to-day work.

I am still thinking of Salesforce though too. It seems to be taking over the non-profit world. And one can learn it for free.

And I am so glad someone gets me when I say I work at a non-profit trade association, not in the industry itself. Thanks Celia! And yes, I think you are right. I can't save the industry my association serves. I would like to try to use whatever skills I start acquiring to help, but that's probably pie-in-the-sky. Change just doesn't happen at my workplace or with our members (hence the 25-year-old technology). And it's not just the tech, it's the culture. Our members are great people and I really like my fellow staff, it would be wonderful to be able to stay put. I just don't think staying is a long-term reality though. I can foresee staff cuts happening in about 4-5 years. I actually bring in revenue (before I took over and streamlined things, what are now my projects were in the negative). So I might be able to hang on for a while, but not forever if things go under.
I think the best bet would be to get a degree that will help you transition to another field/industry so you can get your foot in the door. Salesforce and AWS cannot be self taught per se as it varies greatly from Company to Company depending on how they architect their environment so I doubt any employer will hold any value if you mention to them that you have studied Saleforce/AWS on your own.

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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by random_walker_77 » Fri May 03, 2019 9:10 pm

Calico, I'm getting the sense that you're just looking to make sure you have the baseline of technical skills needed to keep up in the modern workplace. You're clearly not a technical worker, so I wouldn't worry about AWS or learning coding skills. Really, if you know spreadsheets well, you're ahead of 95% of general folks. And frankly, the basics behind Excel (and even Pivot tables) haven't really changed that much in the last 20 years.

Make sure you know the MS office suite. Learn powerpoint. Get good at excel. Maybe play around w/ the online alternative of google docs & sheets. Then focus on building your resume around your core skills and/or polishing up credentials in some of those areas, such as project management.

SQL isn't a bad thing to know... if you're doing work that involves querying a database. But I'm not getting the sense that this is where your strength is, nor that possible future positions are going to require that level of technical know-how.

bayview
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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by bayview » Fri May 03, 2019 10:51 pm

Calico wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 2:46 pm
Maybe I should just get Excel for Dummies (or the equivalent). Or perhaps YouTube is a good start. I am also going to have to get Excel on my home computer somehow (it's a Mac). I figured I need to do this on my time and days off since I really don't use Excel in my day-to-day work.

I am still thinking of Salesforce though too. It seems to be taking over the non-profit world. And one can learn it for free.

And I am so glad someone gets me when I say I work at a non-profit trade association, not in the industry itself. Thanks Celia! And yes, I think you are right. I can't save the industry my association serves. I would like to try to use whatever skills I start acquiring to help, but that's probably pie-in-the-sky. Change just doesn't happen at my workplace or with our members (hence the 25-year-old technology). And it's not just the tech, it's the culture. Our members are great people and I really like my fellow staff, it would be wonderful to be able to stay put. I just don't think staying is a long-term reality though. I can foresee staff cuts happening in about 4-5 years. I actually bring in revenue (before I took over and streamlined things, what are now my projects were in the negative). So I might be able to hang on for a while, but not forever if things go under.
We are all Apple/Mac at home, except for a $600 Windows 10 laptop that I bought for some contracting work.

Go buy a cheap-but-decent Windows laptop with the most current Office package and use that for your learning. Yes, Microsoft makes Office for Windows, but it’s just different enough (and weaker enough) to impair your self-study. Once you learn what you want on Windows, learn to do the same on your Mac and perhaps on Google docs as well. It pains me to say this, but I do think you’ll get your best training on the platform the apps were originally written for. Then get “multilingual” in Mac and something like Google docs to increase your value.

Look into your local community college classes for options, including both online and in person. Good luck!
The continuous execution of a sound strategy gives you the benefit of the strategy. That's what it's all about. --Rick Ferri

Dottie57
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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by Dottie57 » Fri May 03, 2019 11:45 pm

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 2:18 pm
celia wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 2:11 pm
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 1:46 pm
Start with Excel PivotTables.

Everything else comes after.
I wouldn't start here. (I don't even know how to do this although Excel makes it easy.) This is a more advanced concept, where I think OP needs to start from scratch in building her own personal spreadsheets so the easy concepts can be learned first.
Excel has hundreds of functions. Where should the OP start?

PivotTables allow you to produce insights from data, and if the data needs to be manipulated to be PivotTable-friendly, then you would learn those functions along the way.
Taking a basic class for about $10 would help. A pivot table is moot if one doesn’t Know how to add up a column of numbers or create a spreadsheet.

bluebolt
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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by bluebolt » Sat May 04, 2019 3:33 am

bayview wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 10:51 pm
Calico wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 2:46 pm
Maybe I should just get Excel for Dummies (or the equivalent). Or perhaps YouTube is a good start. I am also going to have to get Excel on my home computer somehow (it's a Mac). I figured I need to do this on my time and days off since I really don't use Excel in my day-to-day work.

I am still thinking of Salesforce though too. It seems to be taking over the non-profit world. And one can learn it for free.

And I am so glad someone gets me when I say I work at a non-profit trade association, not in the industry itself. Thanks Celia! And yes, I think you are right. I can't save the industry my association serves. I would like to try to use whatever skills I start acquiring to help, but that's probably pie-in-the-sky. Change just doesn't happen at my workplace or with our members (hence the 25-year-old technology). And it's not just the tech, it's the culture. Our members are great people and I really like my fellow staff, it would be wonderful to be able to stay put. I just don't think staying is a long-term reality though. I can foresee staff cuts happening in about 4-5 years. I actually bring in revenue (before I took over and streamlined things, what are now my projects were in the negative). So I might be able to hang on for a while, but not forever if things go under.
We are all Apple/Mac at home, except for a $600 Windows 10 laptop that I bought for some contracting work.

Go buy a cheap-but-decent Windows laptop with the most current Office package and use that for your learning. Yes, Microsoft makes Office for Windows, but it’s just different enough (and weaker enough) to impair your self-study. Once you learn what you want on Windows, learn to do the same on your Mac and perhaps on Google docs as well. It pains me to say this, but I do think you’ll get your best training on the platform the apps were originally written for. Then get “multilingual” in Mac and something like Google docs to increase your value.

Look into your local community college classes for options, including both online and in person. Good luck!
I use Excel extensively at work. I find that the latest version for Mac has eliminated almost all of the annoying differences I cared about. That said, if there's a reasonable way to learn on Windows, that would likely make things a bit easier if your workplace (and future workplaces) are Windows shops. I'm pretty sure with the least expensive Office365 subscription, you could install it on your Mac and PC at home.

pennywise
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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by pennywise » Sat May 04, 2019 6:57 am

Calico wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 1:09 pm

I work in the non-profit industry and can work at a non-profit that serves any other industry. My problem is my workplace is behind in technology (like I said, we are using 25-year-old software). When I go to non-profit webinars and conferences, I am lost because I don't understand the basics. Most other associations are using version 2.0 and 3.0 of something we never used 1.0 of. So I am behind the times if I have to leave. I want to start working on my skills so I am better prepared if we downsize. I am working on my own for what non-profits want, but I also want to consider leaving the lower paying non-profit world and getting something more lucrative.
So you need to figure out how to enhance the soft skills part of your career portfolio at which you have solid proficiency, with the hard skills of the technical packages, systems and support functions that are fast becoming the norm and expected to be part of your career portfolio. Am I close?

I am a career counselor for STEM students at a research university and have been in the position for 25 years. While it is still necessary it is no longer sufficient to just be an empathetic counselor ready with a laundry list of suggestions to help bewildered young people navigate the job search. I've got to step up my technology portfolio and be proficient in building, maintaining and extracting usable metrics from a CRM (customer relationship manager) online database. I need to be able to not only put outcome data into an Excel file but use pivot tables to tease out deeper and more useful reports to my dean and other high level administrators. Heck just scheduling meetings now requires that I am comfortable using online scheduler widgets (which change frequently in popularity as new ones come online) then set up the meeting itself using Google hangouts or gotomeeting or whatever new gotta-use-this tech is in vogue.

For a manager today metrics are everything because the advances in technology make it possible to track anything. For those of us old school touchy-feely non-techie types it can be a strange and bewildering new landscape yet it is a change that is not going away, in fact it will just get more intense.

Judging from your statement about having a near-college age child you are probably in your 40s or 50s so you are very smart to be trying to figure all this out. As you age (and as is regularly discussed here) the target on your back will get larger especially if you are perceived to be unwilling or unable to adapt and add current technical skills and practices to your personal professional toolbox.

Sounds like you are active in your trade group or professional interest society so contact the admins and ask them for some solid insights. A conversation or two about what trends THEY are seeing can be very enlightening. And then keep learning on your own. Most community colleges or trade schools offer night or short term courses on specific technology packages. Network with other people in your field but focus on connecting with younger professionals not peers in your age and experience level.

You also are obviously not sitting in the virtual corner tut-tutting about all the computers replacing people and how much better it was in the old days etc. But learning and using new technology shouldn't mean you aspire to become an ace app developer, database admin, software architect etc. Technology should support your core competencies not replace them, although sometimes it is hard to keep that balance in the work world of today. Last but not least you have to be somewhat of a curator of support technology; you cannot learn every system, every package and every tech trick so don't try. Tease out what seem to be the current in-fad-hot technologies in your field and know they will change in a few years.

Hopefully you find that learning new stuff is an exhilarating and exciting process. As painful as it can be, the world of metrics based work life opens up some really cool new ways to interact with the important part of any job: the people.

As for me, I've had a great run but at 61 YO and financially able to do it, I"m hanging up my empathetic listener ears in a month or so and saying so long to learning any more about CRMs and pivot tables :D. No regrets really because it's definitely time for many reasons, but hopefully some useful advice from one who has BTDT!

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Calico
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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by Calico » Sat May 04, 2019 10:19 am

random_walker_77 wrote:
Fri May 03, 2019 9:10 pm
Calico, I'm getting the sense that you're just looking to make sure you have the baseline of technical skills needed to keep up in the modern workplace. You're clearly not a technical worker, so I wouldn't worry about AWS or learning coding skills. Really, if you know spreadsheets well, you're ahead of 95% of general folks. And frankly, the basics behind Excel (and even Pivot tables) haven't really changed that much in the last 20 years.

Make sure you know the MS office suite. Learn powerpoint. Get good at excel. Maybe play around w/ the online alternative of google docs & sheets. Then focus on building your resume around your core skills and/or polishing up credentials in some of those areas, such as project management.

SQL isn't a bad thing to know... if you're doing work that involves querying a database. But I'm not getting the sense that this is where your strength is, nor that possible future positions are going to require that level of technical know-how.
Yes, this is exactly what I am trying to do. Thank you (you said it much better than I did).

And thank you to the others who have given advice. I plan to look into all of it and narrow things down.

I pretty much can learn anything. That's my strength I suppose. That's why I am trying to figure out "what" to learn.

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celia
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Re: Technological literacy skills sought after by employers/possible job change

Post by celia » Sat May 04, 2019 11:32 pm

Don't be afraid to try any online course that interests you and is free. If it doesn't sound as interesting after two weeks or so, you can drop it and no-one will care.

If the course sounds like "you", finish it to the end, where the good stuff might be. Don't worry about the courses that turn you into a "techie". Instead, become a "user", not a "developer". That's the distinction to keep in mind.

Another advantage of taking a course at a community college, is that the instructor would likely know where some of the previous students went after taking the course. So arrange to talk to the instructor several times after class and let him/her know why you are taking the class and that you are interested in various fields, but don't yet know where you want to work. As a student, you will also be able to use the job placement center. Many of the jobs may be part-time jobs and not of interest to you. But also get to know the counselors there. That could be another resource.

Even at a community college, you need to be aware that some courses are very basic and are not for college credit. I know someone who is special ed who still talks about her community college course on how to file. Most people don't need a course to do filing, but this is job training for some very low level positions.

Then there are courses that are very specific, such as writing macros in Excel, that are too advanced for a beginner. You want a course that covers all the basics as well as introduces many applications for using Excel (payroll, mailing lists, purchasing, scheduling, etc).

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