Stay on top of things – and versatility counts.

Stay on top of things – and versatility counts.

OK, everyone in the workforce already knew that, right? Who isn’t doing more jobs than ever in the scaled back, “do more with less” atmosphere in the private, public and nonprofit sectors alike?

I chatted the other day with Katy Piotrowski, a career counselor associated with DeVry University. She is author of “The Career Coward’s Guide to Career Advancement: Sensible Strategies for Overcoming Career Fears.”

I asked what’s changed in the last few years about what employers are looking for, and she responded by relating a conversation she had a couple of weeks ago with a telecom executive who had been with the same company for 23 years.

“He said, “ ‘Initially we wanted to hire jack-of-all-trades,’ ” she relates.

Jump ahead, and add computer skills. Jump ahead again, and it’s killer customer service. Now it’s all of those things.

“So what I got out of that was there might not be one plug-in magic skill that opens a lot of doors,” she said. “What I see to be really effective in the market today is being able to target what you offer based on what they need. You might just have a bit of training in one particular area, but that’s the hot button for them.”

Target what you have to offer, she said, and keep tabs on what employers need. Checking online ads can lend a clue about tends.

“It’s an ongoing evolution, just like the market is evolving so fast now, our skills sets need to be renewed over and over,” she said.

Again, we know some of this stuff, but where does the employee who’s wearing two or three or 10 hats – that is, most of us, it seems – find the time to invest in his or her career?

“I like ‘five minutes toward the future,’” she said. Just take a little time each day. If it’s something more long-term and more of a time demand – such as continuing education – find a way to make it be in the employer’s best interests, too.

“You can do a little negotiating that way,” she said.

And keep adding skills – even those that seem daunting.

“Well, technology is huge right now, and not everyone is on the technology bandwagon or they think they’re not,” she said. “So just (find) some way to expose yourself to that. For instance, I recently learned how to do a little bit of video editing ... But it’s opened so many doors, and I have more confidence.”