I’m becoming more aware of how important it is that we do all we can to demonstrate that we are ready to make our next move. Demonstrate what and to whom? Well, demonstrate to the universe, to ourselves and our friends and family, and to prospective employers and clients – that we have the necessary skills and attitude.

There’s great value of taking a course or two to add to your toolbox of skills, increase your ability to “hit the ground running,” show that you’re a “lifelong learner,” and boost your self-confidence in the search process. Here are a few examples of how taking a class improves one’s credibility.

  • My MBA gives me more credibility as a coach. I have significant work success, yet it’s in the non-profit field. Having an MBA makes it a little easier for people from the for-profit world to believe I know what I’m talking about there. (By the way, non-profits have a lot to teach for-profits about “managing to do more with less,” something they DON’T teach in business school.)
  • Someone I know took a ton of courses in the Microsoft Office suite of applications. Getting more skilled really boosted her confidence when she applied for jobs and went on interviews. It was an investment of time and money that had a great payback: the marketing job she wanted and got specifically called for PowerPoint expertise.
  • Another person returned to work after an 8 year sabbatical raising his children. He’s a producer and knows that the film and video world has marched along quite quickly in his absence. He took a formal class in video editing to get up to date with the lingo and technology. Almost immediately after enrolling, he applied for and eventually got a job as in-house producer for a Fortune 500 company.
  • A third person is deciding what she wants to do besides law, and is using classes as a way to get a better idea of the design field.
  • Another woman sought and secured several volunteer gigs in public relations as a way to stay busy, do good, keep her skills up, and list clients on her resume under the name of her consulting firm. One potential employer was so impressed by her client list that he asked why she would want to leave consulting to come to work for an organization! Not long after that, she landed a job as an in-house communications specialist for a prominent national foundation.

The moral of these stories is that if there is a tangible obstacle standing in your way, address it head on. If you don’t have up-to-date skills in the field you intend to pursue, take a class, ask a friend to teach you, and look into volunteer opportunities to practice your craft. You’ll make yourself more marketable, keep the brain active and learning, and boost your confidence as you seek work.

Will it take time? Of course. Yet the time will pass anyway and at the end of it, your toolbox will be fuller and you’ll have cleared one more patch of your path to fulfilling work.