From our economy recovering post-pandemic to the growing rise of automation, our current job market is in a state of flux. So whether you’re trying to start your career, hold on to your position, or looking for a promotion, upskilling is a viable solution to gain an edge in a competitive market.
Many feel that learning new skills is something that you only do early on in your career, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Upskilling allows you to teach yourself new abilities that will make you indispensable to any workplace and potentially result in a more fulfilling career.
Here are some key ways you can upskill for the current job market:
While looking to gain experience to improve your soft and hard skills, often the best way to upskill is by deepening your knowledge on the subject matter and partake in continued learning. Here are a few different ways to accomplish this:
Reading – One way to further develop your skills is to read works related to your industry. Whether it’s the newspaper to stay on top of trends in the world, textbooks, or books from relevant authors, reading ultimately broadens your mind to nurture your soft skills and gives you the knowledge to advance your hard skills as well.
Training – Another way to upskill through learning is to ask for hands-on practical training. Ask your current employer if you can begin training for another role or to take on additional responsibilities in hopes to widen the scope of your job and help you upskill for future advancement.
Online Courses or Certifications – With today’s digital age, accessing online programs has never been easier, many of which are free. Try researching online courses or certifications related to your industry, companies, like LinkedIn, now offer a wide range of free resources to help professionals upskill.
Formal Education – In some cases, you may need formal education in order to obtain the skills you need to move your career forward. That said, it’s important to weigh out the pros and cons before you pursue higher education to ensure that you’ll get a return on the time and money you plan to invest. If you do choose to enter a program, look for one that offers a placement program which will help you gain experience for the job you desire.
Nurture Soft Skills
Often underrated, your intangible traits, or soft skills as we know them, are some of the most important to help fully utilize your hard skills. Soft skills also allow you to adapt to our ever changing work landscapes and demonstrate the leadership qualities needed to move forward in your career. A few soft skills that are important to continually work on are:
Time Management – With many working from home, time management is an imperative skill to have to help manage deadlines and remain productive. Individuals who can manage their time well are often seen as more efficient and reliable in the workplace.
Growth Mindset – By being proactive, self motivated, and showing initiative you are ultimately demonstrating the mentality needed to grow at an organization. Ask for feedback or additional responsibilities from your manager and make it clear that you have the drive to not only prosper at your role, but be a leader as well.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – Individuals with a strong EQ tend to be natural leaders in the workplace, which is why it’s important to work on upskilling this ability. Ultimately, it’ll help you to be more collaborative, empathetic, and improve your conflict resolution skills. Improving your EQ could include talking to a therapist, practicing meditation, readings about mindfulness, or just allowing yourself the time to process things in a healthy way.
Communication Skills – In any industry, you need to communicate well in order to foster positive relationships with colleagues, clients or customers. Whether verbal or written, there is value in communication clearly, empathetically, confidently, and with tact.
Creativity – Avoid approaching things how they’ve always been done and push yourself to think outside the box to solve problems in an innovative manner. Encourage brainstorming sessions with colleagues or like minded individuals to help foster the right environment to upskill your creative abilities.
Refresh Technical Skills
With many industries constantly evolving, it’s important to refresh your hard skills whenever possible. This could include taking on a new project that will challenge you to brush up on those technical capabilities or learning a new software program. Either way, by learning to take on more demanding tasks, you are pushing yourself to take your skills to the next level. What those tasks are will be unique to your industry and the career goals you have for yourself.
Improve Digital Skills
As mentioned, the largest job market trend right now is the move towards digitization, therefore the more digital savvy you are, the more of an asset you will be in the workplace. It’s imperative to improve your digital skills to go beyond the basic expectation to set you apart from others. With some training and practice, you can acquire the knowledge to utilize many digital tools. Training is easily accessible online from podcasts and webinars to blogs.
Freelance New Skills
As you strengthen your new skills, try freelancing them. For example, if you’ve taken a graphic design course and fine tuned other digital skills, you may want to try freelancing your digital marketing expertise. This will help you master the area, as well as tap into the freelance market and give you additional experience. Often individuals looking for freelancers are comfortable working with beginners in order to help them upskill, as well as it is a less costly option for independent or small businesses. You may even excel at freelancing and want to gravitate your career into doing it full time.
Build Your Network
Networking is still a vital part of upskilling, it helps you to fine tune many soft skills, but also provides opportunities to connect with important individuals who can help you in upskilling your hard skills.
Through building your network, ideally you’ll be able to find a mentor. A mentor can give you advice on how to acquire the skills you need or they can teach you those skills directly as someone more experienced in your field. Keep in mind that more experience doesn’t necessarily mean more senior than you, it means finding someone who has the skills you’re looking to obtain or improve upon.
A large part of networking is now leveraging your online presence, such as on LinkedIn. This will help you to make connections you might not make in-person or on your own since not everyone has the confidence to strike up a conversation when they meet someone in person. LinkedIn can also help you become more visible to those in your industry, as well as help you be more in tune with trends in your profession.
Not only is volunteering a great way to give back to your community, but also a way to upskill for your career. Many non-profit organizations and other associations are in need of professionals who can offer their time to do community outreach, coordinate sponsorships, write newsletters, and other tasks that are all invaluable ways to gain experience and improve skills.
Have you already worked on upskilling and are ready for the next step in your career? Contact us to help you find the right opportunity to achieve your long-term career goals.