When I graduated with a degree in English, I assumed I couldn’t find a relevant job and decided to continue working as an automotive mechanic. I enjoyed the work, but always wondered what I could do with the creative writing skills I worked so hard for. Eventually, I found interesting, engaging work that challenged my skills as a writer and taught me much more.
It all started when I decided to learn WordPress a few years ago. I recently took a step back to think about my skill set today versus 5 years ago. I realized that college taught me to write, teach myself, and think critically. But teaching myself WordPress helped me build the skills that employers value, and has made me better at every job I’ve had.
The Top Skills Employers Look For
Before you graduate, you start looking for what they call “real jobs.” Or, maybe you chose grad school. Either way, you’ll be working for somebody and there are several critical skills every employer values.
The most important skills include teamwork, problem solving, and organization. Believe it or not, these three skills are fundamental to using WordPress.
In case you happen to live in the remote wilderness, WordPress is the biggest site building platform online, powering around 75 million websites. It’s an open-source CMS, or content management system, that enables anyone to build and manage a website for any purpose. And it’s free (you can also purchase themes and plugins, but many are free).
Learning WordPress will take time. And time’s a precious commodity, especially for students. I knew about WordPress a long time before I tried it, but I kept putting it off because of the time.
But I want to show you why it’s worth your time now, and help you get ahead of the game. Each of these skills is a reason to try WordPress as a career building exercise. It will help you refine your skills, and give you a platform to build your portfolio with. Having an online presence is absolutely critical to landing a great job. But first, let’s look at how you can learn these skills.
Use this free guide to create your web portfolio with WordPress!Read More
Valuable Skills that WordPress Will Teach You
WordPress has a huge community of users that support each other. There are subreddits about WordPress, themes, plugins, and more. Plus, there are tons of websites dedicated to learning WordPress (like the MOJO blog). These are great resources, but the important point is that WordPress is built by one giant team. Some students are already utilizing the communal aspect of WordPress to sound-off ideas and get feedback from their readers.
2. Problem Solving
When you start building a website, you’ll have a goal in mind. I want a portfolio website that does that cool scrolly animation thing. That’s called parallax (here’s a good example of a parallax image in the website header). In order to figure that out, you’ll have to do research, find a plugin or snippet of code, and learn to add it to your WordPress theme.
Or let’s say you want to get push notifications on your blog. Or make that Youtube video you added responsive. Or build a form with logic. You’ll have to figure it out.
Even learning the basic functions of WordPress forces you to research, experiment, make decisions, and find solutions to problems. These are what a lot of companies call “soft skills.” They aren’t your batting average, they’re bigger than that. Learning these skills helps you create a process that works. Having a process that works is beyond valuable. It’s necessary.
Laying out a website, creating pages and blog posts, and learning to maximize your SEO, or search engine optimization, all demand organization. For example, you’re familiar with website navigation menus. To make these useful to your readers, you have to think about site experience and flow. Like, if you’re an artist what do you put on the home page? And how do you break down the project to show your process? With so many moving parts, you learn to plan ahead and be proactive.
Starting a blog with WordPress gives you a powerful way to practice communication. Stephen King famously said that writing is “not any different than a bedtime routine.” Practice more, read more, be more.
Plus, writing for your website is not just about blogging. There’s copy everywhere, from buttons to headers to email signup forms. And there’s a deep sense of visual communication needed. This process will teach you to be clear, concise, direct, and confident. And it translates easily to public speaking, interviewing, emailing, and more.
Your ability to discover and distill information will steadily progress as you learn WordPress. Every new feature, blog post, or tweak you make will require at least one Google search. And, even when you find a good article or how-to, it’s often just a starting point. Eventually, you will research, refine, and relay ideas more quickly and effectively than ever.
WordPress will also teach you to use data in your research.
6. Data Analysis
This is a trending skill for almost any industry. With technology, data is accessible and readable for most jobs. That means you have to prepare to analyze seemingly random numbers and translate them into actions. WordPress is a great entry point. With Google analytics and A/B testing, you can create experiments, measure the results, and improve interaction with your website. This is a great way to show your employer you can set goals and review the results.
7. Technical Knowledge
Depending on the job you’re looking for, there are obviously different types of technical knowledge that apply. However, web development, coding, design, and writing are all technical skills picked up on your way to WordPress mastery. At least one of these technical proficiencies will be a requirement for the job you choose. And most employers appreciate some basic HTML and CSS knowledge (some even require WordPress expertise!).
But the point is, if you know the technical side of, say, electrical engineering, and you can write, design, and code, you’re a stronger candidate than most.
Knowing software that increases your productivity, or improves processes at your company, looks very enterprising to employers. When I started learning WordPress, it became a kind of gateway software. I wanted to make my own vector logo, so I learned Adobe Illustrator. I loved it, so I proceeded with all other Adobe creative cloud programs, from Photoshop to After Effects. Since then, I’ve offered up solutions, researched and deployed new products, and found WordPress plugins that improved processes at all of my jobs.
9. Writing Reports
This one ties into data analysis. As you learn what works on your website and what doesn’t, you can make conclusions about why your experiment succeeded or failed. Following this process teaches you to set clear goals and collect data. If you continue this approach with your day to day work, you’ll always have something valuable to hand your boss. When they ask how that campaign performed, you have the tools to show them. And, better yet, you have a perspective to offer about why it performed the way it did.
Your ability to sell to or influence others is highly valued by most employers. And you don’t have to be in marketing or sales to see that value–internal influence is often required to get things done. Being a blogger, or simply running a website is all about influence. You’re prompting people to view your art, look at your professional work, or read about your amazing homemade cornbread recipe. You have to learn to tell them what’s in it for them. It’s a stepping stone toward bringing your ideas to life within an organization.
These are skills that are best learned by doing. So get started today, and follow the articles below to learn more about WordPress!