A recruiter called our office recently asking if we knew of any job seekers that knew shorthand for a position that she needed to fill immediately where the candidates would be taking notes for board meetings. She has a deep rolodex of contacts but was having difficulty finding someone who could take fast, detailed, accurate notes. I checked the resumes of recent LA Fellows and found that we didn't have anyone who included that in their skill set.
She related a story of a job she landed earlier in her career. As she sat in the interview taking questions thrown at her from more than one interviewer, she took notes in Gregg shorthand. The manager asked what she was writing. She responded that she was writing down not just the questions asked but her answers so that she could refer to them later. The manager asked her to read back the last question and answer, which she did, word for word. He was impressed. She was hired on the spot.
The moral of this story?
(No, the moral is not necessarily "learn shorthand" - although it is a handy skill to have.)
The moral is two-fold:
1.) Cultivate skills that are valuable to the needs of the employer, that make you stand out from the crowd. Think about your target career, the challenges of that industry and even the future of where it's going. Think about jobs that might be consolidated in the event of an economic downturn and who would most likely be kept to fill those. If you're looking to take classes to get into a new field, consider: if there are a flood of programs for a particular skill, and a flood of students for those classes, what will the market be for that skill by the time you finish and how will employers pluck YOU from that sea of new faces?
2.) Let employers know about your skills. Include it in your Additional Accomplishments section of your resume, and make sure it's mentioned on your LinkedIn page. If it's relevent to the type of work you do, make sure people know about it. Make it easy to answer the question "Why should we hire YOU?"