Help me figure out what (work-related) skills I should focus on attaining
January 23, 2011 3:37 PM   Subscribe

I need to make myself employable fast - how do I get the skills I need?

I want to become an employable, skilled person. I have a PhD in the humanities that I completed on time. My timely completion means I have a fairly sparse resume for my age. Its dawning in me that what I want, more than anything, is a secure job, and while I genuinely enjoy teaching, am proud of my research and feel I have a lot to contribute, the university sector is a nightmare to work in. I'm another casualty of the long con that is the PhD, basically.

Confounding factor: I'm currently in the Netherlands. I moved here with my partner. I have a work visa but don't speak Dutch. It appears that jobs for English speakers are reserved for skilled applicants.

I want to be one of those skilled applicants. Whats a good direction to be looking in?

Ive been considering advertising/marketing, as I've done a bit of copywriting in the past, enough to put together a slim portfolio. I used to work as a web designer as an undergrad, but I'm wildly out of practice. I'm handy enough with Photoshop and would love to learn more. Basically, if I could find a way to make a living out of my love for making things online that would be awesome.

Help me narrow things down, hive mind.
posted by nerdfish to Work & Money (9 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Becoming a wizard in Microsoft Office will help you in almost any field.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:50 PM on January 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

You said you love teaching. Could you get yourself qualified as an English teacher? Elementary or secondary school would probably be more secure than university level.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:02 PM on January 23, 2011

What about taking an online course in proofreading/copy editing to position yourself as an editor for materials that have been translated into English (e.g., websites)?
posted by scody at 4:07 PM on January 23, 2011

There are online classes you can take from most universities on Photoshop, Microsoft Office, etc. that could help you improve your skills. Have you researched what skills are necessary for the jobs available for English speakers? That could help narrow it down. Best of luck!
posted by garnetgirl at 4:44 PM on January 23, 2011

It's getting a bit ahead of things, but when the time comes to look for areas of work, remember that your communications skills can be a "bonus" to whatever other skills you're looking to acquire. In almost any large business, there's a real need for people who are able to do their work and communicate effectively with other business people.
posted by verb at 6:10 PM on January 23, 2011

Future bosses will love you if you know not just Word and PowerPoint but Excel and Access as well. Since you're good with Photoshop, add Illustrator and InDesign (Adobe's Classroom in a Book series is very helpful, and you can get through two of them in your monthlong CS5 trial period if you've got a few hours a day, so no need to buy the software.)

Also boost your typing speed and accuracy. 10 key (5000 kph) and 45wpm+ are both looked for a lot in entry-level work.
posted by SMPA at 7:07 PM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the suggestions! I've actually done a lot of casual proofreading/copyediting work back home, but I didn't realise you could do online courses. I also used to work as a transcript typist as an undergrad. You've helped identify skills I didn't realise were skills! Thanks!
posted by nerdfish at 4:00 AM on January 24, 2011

Knowing Office is great, but it's not something that's going to make you employable in the eyes of an employer - they already expect you to know Office.

Anyway, I'm curious about what field you got your PhD in. One thing I would do is contact all of the researchers in your field at several universities in the Netherlands. Ask them if they need help editing their work into English.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:39 AM on January 24, 2011

To further the Microsoft Office thing, learn how to write VBA. You can then become a god for any reports / decks / dynamic documents / emails that are required. Seriously.
posted by jasondigitized at 3:02 PM on January 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

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