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What about needed but rarely used skills

By tinytvhead ·
I'm posting this question, not looking for any specific answer, just a general idea, of how you deal with certain skills that are very important to know but that you may not get to use very often. I've found that in my career I have studied and learned an amazing amount of information, but that I've also forgotten quite a bit of it due to it's rare use. In a lot of cases the knowledge comes back to me when a situation presents itself, but in others I do find myself having to go back to reference manuals or the internet to give me a few hints. I hope that I am not the only person that has to do this. So I'm asking you to post what you do, if anything, to keep yourself updated and reminded of these skills..and also, is it really necessary that you always keep these skills so fresh in mind if you don't use them very often?

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by Oldefar In reply to What about needed but rar ...

Oh, those UBI (useless bits of information) and OSI (obsolete skills inventory)!

It has been my experience that those individuals who are well rounded, and who have been exposed to a great deal of information in multiple domains and disciplines, are the same individuals who are most likely to come up with the "intuitive" solutions to problems and situations. They also tackle tasks using skills that, once used, become obvious as the best approach but remain hidden until that first person uses them.

I personally keep up with my own collection of UBI and OSI by considering similarities with what I know when learning something new, by participating in bull sessions of all sorts (men seem to learn best via "war stories" and "campfire tales"), and by mentoring others.

As a side note, I always thought that thinking outside of the box was wrong - it is just that some of us have bigger and ever expanding boxes.

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by TheChas In reply to What about needed but rar ...

The quicker you can draw upon your wealth of stored knowledge, the quicker you can fix problems and the more valuable you are to your employer.

If you have the time, one way to keep your skills and knowledge fresh is to spend time answering other peoples technical questions.

In addition to the Q&A and discussion forums here at TR, there are other forums that you can participate in.
has a e-mail based system where you get the threads of technical questions delivered to an e-mail address.

If there is a particular area where skills that you desire to maintain are not regularly used on the job, consider doing volunteer work. Or, start a related hobby.


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by ACSTech01 In reply to What about needed but rar ...

Post on TechRepublic! Answer people's questions using
your knowlege of odd problems, and keep up-to-date on
those odd bits of knowlege by asking questions and reading

I had a similar experience... just when I was thinking of how
useless it was when I spent a lot of time a few years back
trying to figure out a problem with an old Toshiba Sattelite,
I saw a post with a very high pointcount which I was able to
answer and get quite a few points on.

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by ian.wessington In reply to What about needed but rar ...

Its not always easy in the IT industry, you quite often find that a year after your MCSE its out of date, and you may have done a few Cisco courses, but damn them if they dont keep changing the specifications and functionality of the routers. Its the fact that you have a willingness to learn and update your grounded skills that will make you stand out and dare I say it keep you usefull. There is nothing wrong with using the internet as an information resource and certainly nothing at all wroing with referencing back to technical manuals. If anyone ever came to me stating that they knew everything about IT Im sure that I could find some question that they couldnt answer within minutes. However I would be very pleased if they said to me, I dont know that, can I use your internet connection to find out.
We work in a strange environment where we have to think logically and within parameters because we are working with machines, but we have to think creatrivly and imaginativly with these same machines because we have real world problems to solve. I often find that my best resourse for information if I cant find it myself, is my network of friends and work collegues who are in the industry. Try and have lots of contacts spread through various IT services and you will often find that a friend of a friend knows what to do and how.
We are lucky that we work in a industry that doesnt look at keeping 'trade secrets' and that IT personnell at all levels are usually very happy to share their knowledge and their discoveries with others.

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