Moving onto a different position within a company or changing careers altogether will happen to most during their employed lifetime. What was once an interesting entry-level position may quickly become quite bland. An original chosen employment field can turn out to be either less than appealing or just a bad fit altogether. Perhaps personal needs or interests have changed.

When one of those bits of life pop up, it’s time to assess what it takes to move on. Education and skill sets will float right to the top of the list, along with a proven successful work history. It shouldn’t be much of a leap to figure out that education, in the many forms it takes, is essential.

The job market in Sacramento is beginning to show signs of life, making its way out of the dark days following the collapse of the hyper-inflated housing market of a few years back. While not yet robust, jobs are more plentiful now. As of October 2012, the unemployment rate in the Sacramento area has dropped to about 10 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Albeit only a small improvement, it is still an important one.

Take steps to upskill and become educated.

To stay at the front of the line for in-house promotions, take advantage of company training. The process of upskilling involves improving one’s work skills. Its cousin is reskilling, the process of learning new skills so you can do a different job, or train others to do so, and it is also a valuable component for keeping ahead these days.

Richard Russell of Eagle DVBE (photo courtesy of Richard Russell)

Richard Russell of Eagle DVBE (photo courtesy of Richard Russell)

Richard Russell, owner of Eagle DVBE, says that being current with the required skills is critical in today’s job market. His company, a California-certified Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise and a certified California Small Business, places staff in a variety of governmental and non-governmental positions.

Upskilling, due to the changing needs of companies in a changing economy, becomes more important in a tight labor market. Throw in the technological trappings of many jobs today, even at the entry level, and it becomes critical.

Highlight education on resumes and in interviews.

Russell and his company send out requests for resumes to fill job requests from government and private enterprises. What he says about those resumes is important. Quite a few of the jobs that come up require a good deal of technological expertise.

What it takes to land a position, temporary or permanent, says Russell, is a very current list of skills. To even be considered for a job, it should be up-to-the-day current. What companies are looking for is someone to be up to speed on the first day of work. If there is a software proprietary to the company that is doing the hiring, they will train the new employee for that application, but the employee absolutely needs to understand the supporting programming language in the first place. This is true for auto mechanics as well as software engineers.

It is important to take advantage of the opportunities that companies offer for in-house training. Upskilling, as it is called, allows employees to gain valuable skills that are specific to the employee’s employer. If the training is being offered by the employer, it must be important to the company. That should be a very clear indication that employees wanting to move up in the company tree should take the training.

Become more valuable to a current employer through education.

Employees who show the interest and take the time to upskill are far more valuable to a company than those who don’t. Relying only on one’s natural skills is a quick way to lose out on promotions.

Russell says that he sees companies looking to those with MBAs to move into management fields and for employees to get certification in various programming and computer skills, in addition to company-specific trainings. SAP and C# are two computer languages he says knowledge of is in high demand. There is, according to Russell, more need than certified programmers who are available at present.

Russell’s take on climbing the professional ladder boils down to this: stay current, take all the training a company has to offer and attend classes outside the company to further improve skills. When it comes time to move up, these people are likely to stand out if their resumes includes a list of company trainings and higher education. If moving to a new company, the same holds true. An impressive list of usable skills is a must when interviewing for a job.

Charles Ferris is a freelance writer who has lived in the Sierra, halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, for the last 37 years. He retired from teaching after 36 years in 2010. He and his wife hike, kayak, cross country ski, snow shoe, ride mountain bikes and road bikes, year round. His work can be found at


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