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Published on March 30, 2021

6 Reasons Why Taking Up Digital Skills And Knowledge Is Crucial

6 Reasons Why Taking Up Digital Skills And Knowledge Is Crucial
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Digital technology has forever transformed every aspect of modern life and will continue to do so. No matter our age or disposition, we may as well admit that we’ll need to acquire new digital skills for the rest of our lives.

It may be that part of our ambivalence toward technology stems from the fact that many of us have to learn digital skills on top of staying current in our chosen fields. Whenever frustration grows to a boiling point, it’s often because it feels as if technology is getting in the way of what we want to accomplish.

When it seems like technology is slowing things down where it promised to speed them up, it’s time to step back and ask, “is the problem with the tech or with me?”

Be open to the possibility that the problem could be on either side or perhaps a bit of both. If you’ve resisted developing new tech skills, here are six reasons why you need to overcome your reluctance so you can thrive in an evolving workplace.

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1. A Dirty Digital Footprint Could Have Consequences

Over the last several years, employers have demonstrated that they’re willing to discipline or even terminate employees who can’t manage themselves in the digital realm. There have been countless cautionary tales of high-profile executives, politicians, movie stars, and motivational speakers losing their livelihoods because they didn’t think before posting something on social media.[1]

Businesses, for their part, have begun managing their liability by proactively scouring the digital footprint of job applicants before they make hiring decisions. Colleges and universities are heading off future disciplinary problems by adding social media scans to their enrollment procedures. And that’s not even talking about the rise of “cancel culture.”

The best lesson is to keep it classy online and add a regular self-monitoring checkup to your routine. There is now an entire industry of digital footprint-scrubbing services, but a less-expensive option is simply to self-regulate. Start by asking a trusted friend to Google your name and find the most potentially embarrassing post, photo, or other information they can within 10 to 15 minutes. Identify (and delete) your bad judgment calls before someone else does.

2. You Need to Know the Tricks—and Tools—of Your Trade

Entire industries are being rapidly transformed by tech. Future job applicants will be expected to know both their field and its most commonly used tech tools on their first day. Unfortunately, the speed of technological change can result in a college or trade-school graduate landing a job only to discover that the skills they were taught last year have since become obsolete.

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Fortunately, many new initiatives are rising up to meet this challenge. In Los Angeles, for example, a partnership between grassroots organization MARTY and Hawke Media resulted in the creation of the first-ever digital marketing academy.[2] Whether your field of expertise is HR, PR, or something else altogether, there are likely digital skills workshops you can take advantage of. As tech continues to make inroads, the need to stay digitally current—in addition to having mastered textbook concepts—will increase.

3. Effective Communication Requires Understanding Audience Expectations

Hopefully, by now, you know that sending a message in ALL CAPS makes it look like you’re shouting. You might also have noticed that it’s becoming customary to text someone before calling and ask, “can you talk now?” Gone are the days when the phone would ring, you’d have no clue who was calling, and you’d pick up anyway.

What constitutes appropriate communication by phone, text, Slack, email, social media, or any other channel comes bundled with audience expectations. Those who know which channel to use in a given situation and abide by the unspoken rules will thrive in this new landscape.

When entering any new digital environment, spend a week or two as a cultural anthropologist. Observe what the digital natives do and act accordingly. Stay humble and open to correction. Hold off on cheeky humor and good-natured sass until you understand the world in which you’ve landed.

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4. Without a Solid Tech Foundation, You’ll Be Left Behind

Back in junior high, our math teachers would warn us about the importance of making sure we fully grasped a particular concept before moving on. The idea was that whatever came next would build on what we’d already mastered, so we’d better have it down cold.

Today, innovations in digital technology are being released so rapidly that more than a few late adopters will be left behind. If you haven’t mastered Google Sheets, for example, or don’t know your way around common project management software, then create your own learning opportunities. Online course platforms like Udemy and Coursera can help you get up to speed.

As more and more everyday products and services lean into digital platforms, those who make the effort to stay current with digital skills will more quickly adapt. If your current workplace demands technology skills that you don’t have, ’fess up to a sympathetic supervisor and develop a concrete plan and timeline for acquiring them. Your determination to fill your tech gaps will be a point in your favor.

5. You Need to Keep Yourself and Others Safe Online

Email phishing, identity theft, ransomware, and a wide array of other threats have become a settled fact of life online. According to Statista, money lost to phone scams alone jumped from $10.5 billion in 2019 to $19.7 billion in 2020, nearly doubling in just one year.[3]

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As online mistakes become increasingly common and costly, the value of those who use their digital skills to protect themselves and others will skyrocket.[4] Make sure you stay current on acceptable uses of technology in every setting. Rather than learning the hard way, take the advice of cybersecurity experts and follow the best security technology practices. Whenever you don’t understand the logic behind various security protocols, ask. You’ll be far better equipped to follow rules you understand.

6. Digital Skills Will Be Needed to Help Break Down Barriers

Digital skills are like any other tool—they can be used for good or bad. As the online world continues to reveal fractures across cultures, the need for people who use their digital skills to build bridges will increase.

Apply commonsense communication guidelines in the digital sphere. Adding your own personality to communication is a good thing but only up to a point. Seek out past posts that could cause unnecessary division and consider deleting them. You may feel very strongly about a controversial issue, and that’s fine. Just be aware that your supervisor may have something to say if your stance begins costing the company revenue.

Final Thoughts

As you sharpen your digital skill set, keep in mind that the lines have begun to blur across previously separate realms. Pressure is mounting to get more of our work done online. People aren’t as free to separate their work identity from their after-hours conduct.

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The rules seem to shift slightly with the introduction of every new, popular platform. The best way to adapt is to stay current, stay sharp, and regularly review your online conduct.

More About Digital Skills and Knowledge

Featured photo credit: hj barraza via unsplash.com

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Kimberly Zhang

Kimberly Zhang is the Chief Editor of Under30CEO and has a passion for educating the next generation of leaders to be successful.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

What Is SWOT Analysis? 5 Ways It Accelerates Your Self-Improvement

What Is SWOT Analysis? 5 Ways It Accelerates Your Self-Improvement
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If I told you that there was one activity that you could do frequently that would dramatically accelerate your rate of self-improvement, would you do it?

SWOT Analysis may very well be the solution to your problems of feeling lost, unproductive, worried about the future, and the general struggle that inevitably arises on the road to personal development. It is quick to carry out, reliable in terms of changing your perspective, and effective in getting you the results that you desire.

So what exactly is this SWOT Analysis? You will find everything you need to know about it below as well as how to do it and all of the amazing benefits that it will bring to your life.

What Is SWOT Analysis?

SWOT Analysis is a business term that has steadily made its way over into the world of personal development due to its effectiveness in getting things to improve — whether that be a company or, more recently, a person.

S.W.O.T. is an anagram that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. When assessing these four key pillars in life, it gives a very good picture of which direction you should be heading in and even highlights some of the best ways to do it.

All in all, it is a great way to reflect on past actions and to decide on the best way to move forward.

How to Do a SWOT Analysis

Carrying out a SWOT Analysis is relatively simple. The best way is to take out a pen and paper and write down four columns: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. From there, you can begin to fill out each one and apply it to whatever situation you find yourself in.

If you are considering expanding your enterprise, you might want to write down the current strengths and weaknesses of your business as well as the opportunities that you could possibly move into and the threats that you might need to minimize.

If you are an individual looking to improve yourself, you can carry out a SWOT Analysis either on the micro or macro level. A micro example would be focusing on one specific area of life. For example, you could write down your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats when it comes to dating, productivity, or changing your job.

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You can also take it to the macro level. You might simply write down your current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats across all areas of life — or simply the areas that you want to focus on for now.

SWOT Analysis is very easy to do and is excellent for the bigger picture stuff. Here is a rough template with a few questions across various areas of life that you can use for your own personal development purposes:

Strengths

What professional qualifications do I have that make me stand out from everybody else?

What do I exceed at where most people are either average or below average?

What achievements have I been awarded?

What struggles have I overcome in the past that give me hope for the future?

Weaknesses

Where do I fall short where others seem to excel?

What bad habits do I have?

What thoughts tend to hold me back?

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Opportunities

Is there any significant advancement happening or about to happen that I can take advantage of?

Is there a new position in a company that maximizes my skillset?

Is there a gap in the market that I could potentially fill?

Is there an opportunity that is low-risk (i.e. I can fail fast and decide if I want to keep pursuing it)?

Threats

What competition do I face in a certain area?

What is the most likely thing to throw me off course? Is it me?

If there was an economic downturn, would I be in a position to survive? Could I even turn it into an opportunity?

Benefits of SWOT Analysis for Self-Improvement

Now that you know what it is and how to do it, you may already start to see all of the benefits for your personal growth that can come from a SWOT Analysis. If you haven’t already started to think about how to use it in your own life, here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. It Gives You an Actionable Plan

One of the most obvious benefits of doing a SWOT Analysis is the fact that it gives you an actionable plan. It is rare for someone to actually sit down and write out their strengths and weaknesses as well as the opportunities and threats they are facing, so you will be getting well ahead.

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More importantly, taking the information from all four of these areas allows you to create an effective plan for yourself going forward — whether that be doubling down on your strengths, a plan to overcome your weaknesses, or how to leap at one of the opportunities in your life.

SWOT Analysis is designed specifically to drive actions and decisions — it is not simply a discussion exercise that you put to one side once you are finished with it.[1]

2. It Allows You to Zoom Out

Far too many people are so trapped within their day-to-day activities that they forget to see the big picture. Not being able to see the forest for the trees is one of the things that hold many people back from reaching their full potential.

SWOT Analysis allows you to take a moment of reflection, see the big picture, and then to make an informed decision about what your everyday tasks and activities are going to be, rather than the other way around.

It is important to be able to zoom out from time to time to make sure that you are on track with whatever your objectives are in each area of life. SWOT Analysis is the best way to do just that.

3. It Helps You Recognize New Aspects and Patterns

One of the unique things about SWOT Analysis is that it manages to combine different areas of your life and lets you see patterns, opportunities, and much more that you wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

An example would be the combination of your strengths and your opportunities. When you look at both of these side-by-side, you get a good idea about where the crossovers are, and, as a result, you get a clear picture of what opportunities are worth pursuing based on your strengths.

Another example would be looking at your strengths and threats next to one another. When you have a decent idea about what your strengths are in a certain situation, you can start to see how those strengths might come in handy when it comes to mitigating certain threats that you might face.

The truth is, any combination across SWOT Analysis creates a unique perspective that will be extremely useful for your own self-improvement.

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4. It Minimizes Risk

Branching out from the previous point, a SWOT Analysis is carried out to help minimize risk [2]. Although this is primarily a benefit from a company’s standpoint, it can also be helpful from an individual’s perspective as well.

On a personal level, risk can come in a variety of forms. It might be an imaginary risk that feels real, like asking your crush out or asking your boss for a raise. It might be an actual risk where you are thinking of expanding your business or entering a new market where you have little experience. Either way, seeing the threats you face as well as the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities you have allows you to go down the path that minimizes risk and maximizes gain.

5. It Can Marks Stages of Your Path

An interesting way that companies use SWOT Analysis is that they carry it out every month or every quarter in order to reset and recalibrate their destination. It can be used in a similar way by you as well. Just like there are certain times when businesses use them, there are certain times when you should use them.[3]

Every month or every couple of months, take the time to do a SWOT Analysis to see how you are progressing. What strengths have been added? What weaknesses have been discovered? What opportunities have revealed themselves or been lost? What new threats are you facing and which have been removed from the picture?

Not only will carrying out a SWOT Analysis on a frequent basis accelerate your self-improvement by helping you see where you want to go with less distraction, but it is also nice to see how things change and, hopefully, get better.

It is also worth looking back at your SWOT Analysis from the start of the year when you reach the end of the year to see how far you have come.

To Wrap Up

So there you have it. SWOT Analysis might just be the tool and technique that you have been waiting for to truly take the next step in your self-improvement journey. It is practical, easy to carry out, and effective in terms of planning your next moves.

Whether you do it on a consistent basis to ensure that you are moving in the right direction or you only do it when you feel lost, SWOT Analysis will always be right there waiting to help.

Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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