How Continuous Learning Increases Your Market Value
By Stephen Bucaro
I remember back in the old days when your ability to get and keep a job depended upon
how strong your back was. Most jobs back then consisted of physical labor. But today most physical
work is done by machines. That's not to say that there aren't jobs that involve physical labor,
but nowadays even when they hire for those jobs, they're going to hire the individual with
the higher education.
Some people think getting and keeping a job involves making someone in the company like
them. Unfortunately, today's companies view employees the same as they view tools and equipment.
If the company can buy a fancy shop vacuum cleaner that will do the job much better than their
old broom, they'll buy that vacuum cleaner and toss the old broom in the trash. If the company
can hire a worker who has a wide range of skills and knowledge, they'll hire that worker and
kick the old employee to the curb.
It follows my theory that I call "You Incorporated". You shouldn't be thinking of yourself
as an employee of a specific company, but you as your own company working within a company.
Having limited skills and knowledge to offer your employer and the marketplace is like being
a company with a very limited product and services to offer. But if you have a wide range of
skills and knowledge, you have greater value to the company and greater market value in your
Some people hate school. If you're one of those people who hate school, how do you feel
about being a low paid employee who gets no respect and is unemployed more often than not?
There are always tradeoffs in life. You can choose to lay back, accept low pay, kiss butt,
and get no respect. Or you can put in the extra time and effort required to get more skills
In the old days you could just do your eight hours at work and go home and kick back.
But today's labor market is just too competitive. You have to put in extra time advancing your
skills and knowledge and increasing the value of "You Incorporated".
Where to Learn
The best way to gain more skills and knowledge is to sign up for evening courses at your
local community college or university. It would be better if you were working on courses directed
at earning a higher degree, but this usually requires competing the requirements in a specific
amount of time. Just taking one evening course at a time might not get you there. But just
getting course work on your resume, even without a degree, still ads substantially to your
Another option to gain more skills and knowledge is to attend a trade school. This also
involves taking courses at night after work, but trade schools usually arrange things so that's
all that's required to get your certificate or diploma. There's a wide range of trade schools.
Unfortunately, there are many trade schools that require only that you make it to the pay window
in order to graduate.
A certificate or diploma from one of these trade schools gets no respect and has little
or no market value. There are also a few trade schools that actually teach you valuable skills
and a certificate or diploma from one of these schools is valued by business and industry.
So it's up to you to research any trade school you would like to attend to make sure they have
a high rating.
If you're one of those people who really hates school, you should gain more skills and
knowledge by reading books. If you also really hate reading books, then you have little choice
but to accept low pay, kissing butt, and getting no respect - that is - in the rare circumstances
when you actually have a job. I'm sorry, but some sacrifices have to be made to survive in
Learning on your own from books requires discipline. You have to set aside a time and
place when you will be studying your book without interruption. The best books to learn from
contain exercises, quizzes, or self-tests. You might be surprised how little time it requires
to learn to from books. After all you don't need to commute to a school and you don't need
to sit through the non-productive time involved with any school. If you can set aside time
at work to study your books, that would be great. Especially if you make sure you get seen
at work studying your books.