Strategies to Stay Current in Your field

In our fast-paced, rapidly changing world, knowledge and skills can become outdated surprisingly quickly. This is especially true in tech fields that see massive breakthroughs and disruptions nearly every day.

Therefore, staying current within your profession has never been more important for sustaining a successful career. Those who keep their skills and expertise fresh will remain relevant, in-demand and positioned for future opportunities.

However, with so much information available and so little time, it can be challenging to know where to focus your ongoing learning efforts in a way that truly keeps you current. Here are some strategies to help you stay up-to-date within your field:

Read industry publications: Regularly read trade publications, blogs and major news sources that cover developments within your specific industry. These sources will keep you informed about emerging trends, new technologies, innovations, business models and anything else disrupting the status quo. Make a habit of skimming industry headlines daily and doing deep dives on particularly impactful articles weekly.

Follow key people on social media: Follow influencers and thought leaders within your profession on Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms. Their posts and shares will alert you to important discussions, happenings and ideas impacting your industry. By passively consuming their thought leadership, you’ll gain insight into what’s top of mind for professionals driving change within your field.

Attend conferences and meetups: Participate in conferences, seminars and meetup groups related to your work. These events expose you firsthand to cutting-edge ideas through presentations, panels and networking conversations. You’ll learn directly from the experts innovating within your domain and return to work reinvigorated with fresh perspectives that keep your knowledge current. Aim for at least one major conference per year within your specialty.

Evaluate trends and forecasts: Read articles and reports highlighting emerging trends and making future predictions about developments within your industry. By understanding the big trends likely to reshape your work in the years ahead, you’ll know which skills, technologies and concepts are most worth investing your time to learn now before they gain widespread adoption. Stay ahead of the curve rather than play catch up later.

Take informal courses: Enroll in massive open online courses (MOOCs) and watch relevant tutorial videos on subjects potentially impacting your work. These informal, self-paced learning options expose you to trending topics at incredibly low cost and time commitment. Sift through newly released courses to identify content covering key trends and skills that would benefit you most. Dedicate an hour or two each week.

Obtain certifications: Pursue industry certifications that validate your knowledge of new and valuable technologies. Certifications signal credibility, expertise and a dedication to lifelong learning that makes you attractive to employers. Regularly reevaluating and renewing certifications keeps you accountable for staying atop major innovations shaping your work. Aim for one major new certification every few years.

Talk to your network: Reach out to peers, senior colleagues and business contacts to gain their perspectives on important developments within your industry. Discuss what skills and technologies they see gaining prominence and which areas are seeing the most disruptive innovation. Their frontline experience and expertise will illuminate which strategies and knowledge are most critical for you to adopt now in order to stay current.

In summary, making time for the strategies above – reading publications, following influential people, attending events, researching trends, taking informal courses, obtaining credentials and tapping your network – is a commitment worth making if you want to thrive long term within your field. Staying abreast of major changes is no longer optional for professionals who aspire to remain in-demand, purposeful and able to adapt with the times. Make it a habit today and you’ll reap rewards for years to come.