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Editor’s note: This article was
originally published by Aquent,
AIGA's official sponsor for professional development.
I received a call the other day from someone who’d recently been made
redundant from a role he’d held for the past 12 years. The fact that
he’d been let go was bad enough, but as we discussed options, it became
clear that the more comfortable he’d become in his role, the more out of
touch with his industry he’d allowed himself to become. In discussing
his skill set, he mentioned being at an expert level in the program his
company was using for their print work: QuarkXPress; a program that’s
been rapidly fading from sight for the past four versions of Adobe
InDesign. And now that he’s unexpectedly back on the market, he’s first
having to play catch-up before he can even try to apply for a new job.
It’s an unfortunate situation because he’s a talented designer with 12+
years of industry experience, and he is now functionally obsolete to
today’s hiring manager.
This is a scary scenario and is one that could happen to anyone. So
how do you go about preventing it? First, it’s important to keep in
mind that no matter how well aligned you are with your company, no
matter how long you’ve been employed with them, you owe it to them and
most of all to yourself to remain valuable to the industry.
Keeping up with what’s going on out there serves a few purposes:
First, it shows your employer that you have an interest in keeping them
current and in some cases, competitive. You keep the company up-to-date,
and when the time comes for them to upgrade, you’ll be ahead of the
curve and able to ease the transition for the rest of the team. This, in
turn, shows initiative and big-picture thinking and if nothing else,
paints you in a positive light with your employer (think of the
possibilities). For you as an individual, staying in tune with the most
up-to-date trends, programs and industry goings-on not only acts as
“preventative maintenance” (as was needed in the initial example) but
also allows you to grow as an individual in your existing position.
Whether you are a designer, developer, project manager or marketing
professional, there are industry groups, classes and events available to
you for professional development. The InDesign User Group, Design
Victoria (Melbourne) and AGDA all offer meetings, courses and workshops
for the benefit of those in the creative industry. Meetup.com is a great
place to find small local groups who gather to discuss specific topics
such as Flash programming, project management or online marketing. And
don’t be afraid to tap into your local university!
It seems that the creative world is changing rapidly. It’s important
to be mindful of that and every so often take a step back to ask
yourself where your skill set is in comparison to where the market is
headed. Are you ready?
About the Author: Aquent is a global staffing company dedicated to marketing and creative services organizations and is a
leader in helping companies increase marketing capacity by providing the right
talent quickly. Its network of more than 400,000 marketing and creative
services professionals provides access to a diverse field of talent that includes
graphic designers, copywriters, branders, managers and market researchers.
Aquent is the Official AIGA Sponsor for Professional Development, serving as a
source for creative and design talent as well as providing access to great
career opportunities for AIGA members nationwide.
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