Are Your Skills Up to Date?

Fundamentally, interior design today is practiced much the same as it has been for the past 20 or 30 years. Once designers master the basics, they tend to add to their knowledge base on the job, resolving each new challenge as it occurs. With the demands of managing projects and running and marketing a business, they have little time or inclination to learn new skills or pursue additional certifications—unless a business need arises—with the result that over time they may fail to keep up with changes in the industry.

Surveys show that most designers do not belong to a professional association, attend conferences other than product expos, or participate in seminars, workshops or other types of professional development, whether in person or online. When times are good, that does not present a problem. When times are not so good, however, these designers may find they are having a hard time competing with those who have made an effort to keep themselves up to date not only on the latest trends, but also on recent developments and changes in processes, methods, purchasing and technology.

I am seeing this issue crop up now with some designers whose businesses are struggling and who are considering closing shop and going to work for another firm. Even though they have years of experience and a number of satisfied clients, they do not possess all the skills that employers are looking for today and thus are losing out to less experienced but, in some ways, more qualified designers. My advice is to take some time to brush up on and update your skills before seeking a position with a firm. It will make you a more competitive candidate and, in the long run, a better professional.

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