To be more marketable you don’t need to go to grad school.
If you’re looking to move up or onto another job, there’s always something new you can learn to become better in a job. Knowledge is referred to power. But if the thought of going back to school seems overwhelming, don’t worry. You might not have to.
According to the 2013 employer survey by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, up to 93% employers are more about skills than a degree in a particular subject. So you don’t have to go back pulling all-nighters in the library.
The three most sought-after skills employers are looking for—and some tips on how to learn those skills fast – are given below:
At a time when certain job professions are withering away at the hands of technology and automation, there’s one skill set that continues to be more in demand than ever before: coding.
Businesses and organizations are constantly looking for website developers, software developers, and computer programmers. In other words, if you understand how to code and prove to be knowledgeable, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding high paying jobs that are flexible and enjoyable.
“Coding skills can help an individual land all kinds of opportunities from marketing automation to product management to user experience design to customer success and beyond.”
While it’s impossible to teach you everything you need to know about coding in a single resource, consider this article a 101 introductory guide. It’ll provide you with some helpful tips, information, and terminology that will allow you to learn to code easily.
Know the Five Basic Concepts
There are many different coding languages, but there are five basic concepts that remain consistent throughout. In order to understand programming, you must grasp these ideas.
Variables: In the simplest form, a variable is a method of storing information that’s intended to be used later. It can then be retrieved by referring to the word or term that describes this information.
Control structures: A control structure is a piece of programming that analyzes different variables and chooses how to proceed based on the parameters in play. It’s essentially the decision making aspect of computing and determines responses based on certain actions or inputs.
Data structures: These are specific methods by which data is stored and organized in a computer. It’s stored in such a way that it can be efficiently accessed and used when needed.
Syntax: Even if you don’t have the much coding knowledge, you probably know that different characters and symbols are used. Well, the syntax is the set of rules that defines the combination of various symbols and which ones are properly structured. The syntax is essentially the grammar handbook for the coding language.
Tools: Finally, we have tools. This is the easiest of the five concepts to understand. As in the real world, a tool is simply a piece of software that allows you to program faster and more efficiently. There are thousands of tools out there, so choosing the right one for your specific needs is most important.
Choose the right language
There are tons of different coding languages. The key is to choose the right one. And the best way to choose the right language is by getting to the root of the issue: Why do you want to code?
Do you want to build websites? Develop apps? Gain more control over your own data? There are hundreds of different applications, and the language you choose will depend on the goal you’re trying to accomplish.
The good news is that many coding languages are similar and share some of the same basic concepts. The best piece of advice is to pick a language and stick with it until you know everything about it. Then, you can use another language – you’ll find that your previous understanding will make things a bit simpler.
Learn by Coding (Not Reading)
Children don’t learn how to ride a bike or tie their shoes by watching a YouTube video or reading a book. The only way they ever understand how to balance or tie knots is by doing it over and over again.
“Coding works in much the same way,” coding instructor Michael Choi says. “You might fly through a chapter of reading and have no problem understanding a topic like ‘for loops,’ but if you don’t play with the code right there and then, you’ll never remember the syntax when you go to actually implement it for the first time.”
- Understand the Fundamentals
When you decide to learn a coding language, it’s natural to want to fast-forward to the specifics so you can start creating things. However, it’s important that you don’t brush past the programming fundamentals that are included in just about every course or guide.
The only way to develop a comprehensive understanding of coding is by first building a foundational knowledge of how and why programming does certain things. A failure to understand the basic building blocks will limit your comprehension down the road.
Try Coding by Hand
Coding obviously works in conjunction with software and technology, but one of the best things you can do is learn how to code by hand. It’s a tried and true method of learning and-despite all of the advancements over the years it still remains one of the most fundamentally sound learning options.
When you code by hand-as opposed to on the computer-you can’t check to see if it’s correct halfway through the process. As a result, you have to be more aware of what you’re doing. Plus, if you end up applying for a job in the future, a lot of technical interviews require applicants to code by hand as part of the process.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 85% of employers rank oral communication as a very important skill when hiring recent college grads. Being able to speak clearly and confidently will help you nail the job search, from networking to the job interview.
“It’s crucial to be able to confidently speak about yourself and your accomplishments,” says Emily Merrell, founder of the New York-city based networking group Six Degrees Society. “Getting comfortable with public speaking is essential to being able to promote yourself and you’ll need the same skills to show your interviewer you’re the right person for the job.”
Nancy Halpern, an executive at the New York City-based executive coaching firm KNH Associates recommends recording a video of yourself as you practice public speaking. As you watch the video, write down your strengths and weaknesses.
“Try to be specific—not judgmental,” she says. “Saying ‘I’m boring!’ isn’t as helpful as ‘I stare at my notes the whole time.’ Then, list three things you would change. Focus on those changes for takes two, three, four, and more. Practice makes progress.”
Ready to brush up your skills? Join a group such as Toastmasters International or Dale Carnegie Training or take public speaking classes on platforms such as Udemy and Skillshare. Some other renowned courses in public speaking and communication are: How to Present: Share Ideas That Inspire Action by Simon Sinek; Assertiveness Basics: The 50-minute Communication Guide; Acumen Presents: Chris Anderson on Public Speaking.
Excel and PowerPoint
Technically these are two separate computer skills, but they often go hand-in-hand, and they can be mastered in three months or less since you’re probably familiar with the basic functions of both.
These programs are key to making yourself indispensable at work: with Excel, you can easily share data or performance results with higher-ups, and with PowerPoint, you can create persuasive presentations to convey your ideas in a powerful medium.
“Obtaining a certificate in intermediate, or advanced Excel or PowerPoint can quickly catapult someone ahead of the crowd in a very short time,” says Andrew Stenhouse, a professor of organizational psychology at Vanguard University in California.
Some Microsoft Word & Excel skills you must have to succeed at the office are given below:
Microsoft Excel Skills
Make use of Autofill
You can save a tremendous amount of time with two methods of filling in data in Excel. Skill #1 is the “autofill” feature – filling out numbered data in columns and rows. While tutoring a realtor on how to use Excel to replace his paper financial documentation, I learned quickly that many people are not aware of this one, single feature of Excel that can save hours of data entry. To use it, simply type anything into the first cell that ends in a number.
Click and hold the lower-right corner of the cell, and drag the mouse down the column. You’ll notice that the number on the right will automatically increment for each cell.
Use Autofill for formulas
Skill #2 to learn is using autofill for formulas. If you write a function at the bottom of each column – for example averaging all of the values in that column – you can use this same autofill feature to do the same calculation at the bottom of each other column as well.
You do this the same way. Click and hold the lower right corner of the cell where you just typed in the formula, and then drag it across the other columns to the right of it.
When you release the mouse, all of those column calculations will automatically correct for the right column letter. You’ve basically performed the identical formula for every column in just a few seconds, and you didn’t even have to type another keystroke.
- Manage data easily with the PivotTable tool
The third skill you really need to learn in Excel if you want to save yourself a tremendous amount of analysis time is a tool called a PivotTable. PivotTable is accessible under the “Insert” menu. Just look for the “PivotTable” icon. If you click this icon after highlighting an entire table of data (including headers), the PivotTable table analyzes that data and brings it into a new sheet where you can manipulate that data in various ways.
The PivotTable tool allows you to select the columns of data that you want to analyze, and then choose how you want to manipulate the data. Simply add them all up? Average them? Calculate the standard deviation?
Using a PivotTable saves a tremendous amount of time. To accomplish these same things in a standard Excel sheet would require all sorts of functions and re-formatting data. PivotTables automatically do the work, while you can spend more of your time studying the results.
Microsoft Word Skills
Format & Re-use Headers
The reason headers are important is that once you have a good header design for something like a letter or a certain type of report that you have to fill out, you never have to design or create that header again. You can save a document with the entire header formatting you need, and save all of that effort the next time you create the same document. Headers can be formatted by clicking on the “Insert” menu and choosing the “Header” icon.
Once you review the header editing menu, you’ll see just how versatile and useful headers can be. You can automatically have headers alternate between two designs between even and odd pages, and you can even break your document into sections and give each section its own unique header.
This flexibility allows you to automate all of the repeat sections of documents for the various documents you have to write up for your job, saving a tremendous amount of time.
Another advantage of using headers in this way is that if you ever want to change any part of those headers in the document, all you have to do is make the change to the header style in one place, and the change will automatically replicate throughout your entire document. Without a header, you’d have to manually make that change on every page.
- Manage Page Layout
The next Microsoft Word skill that every office worker should know is how to set up and preview the page format of any document. Understanding how to do this gives you the flexibility to make a document look however you want, rather than being stuck with the default settings for things like page margin size (which many people have no clue how to change).
A few of the tools you should learn to format page layout are on the “Insert” menu. Things like the “Page Number” tool, which will automate and manage the page numbering for you.
The bulk of the page formatting options you need are actually on the aptly named “Page Layout” menu. If you’re writing up a newsletter for your company, why mess around with manually trying to work out the formatting into sections of the page when you can just use the “Columns” tool found here to do this?
And that mysterious margin around the page that most people call their local IT technician to learn how to modify. Don’t bother calling, just click on the “Page Borders” icon, go to the “Page Border” tab, and click on “Options.”
You can set top, bottom, left and right page margins there. By the way, on that “Borders and Shading” menu, check out all of the other cool things you can do, like place borderlines on any side of the page, apply to only sections of the document, and much more.
Learning these MS Word and Excel skills, you’ll impress everyone in your office – and most importantly, you’ll impress your boss!