Skills set you apart from the crowd and can be your strength in making magnificent strides in your career. With the current job market and the immense competition, the need for upskilling has become increasingly important; just look at the many dedicated programs for upskilling on LinkedIn, the most-popular networking platform for professionals.
Here’s a guide that will help you stay relevant, competitive, and give you an edge over other candidates.
Upskilling: The Need Of The Hour
Peter Drucker once said; “The only skill that will be important in the 21st century is the skill of learning new skills. Everything else will become obsolete over time”.
Who knew that the year 2020 would be the downfall of many careers and the job market, in general. For many, the Coronavirus pandemic put a halt on their job trajectory and aspirations. From working professionals in all levels of management to new Graduates and freshers, most people are finding it increasingly difficult not just to secure their current position, but more so, to apply for a new one.
The truth is, it will pay to have some foresight rather than brooding and worrying in times like these. The best thing you can do is look out for emerging trends and ride the tide by upskilling in areas that companies are still investing in.
For example, has anyone else noticed the boom in content creation and multiple job posts for social media managers? That, right there, is a classic trend you shouldn’t ignore.
India Skills Report 2019 stated that employability has increased from 37% to 47.38% in the last 5 years, but the question is whether our educational & training landscape has grown equally, and as an ecosystem, are we focusing on mapping & filling the gap between skills available and market demands?
Filling the gap is an idealistic goal (for example, if you’re not in the content creation space, then the many social media manager job postings will be of no use to you). However, augmenting your current skill set and enriching the L&D foundation with a focus on developing soft skills and professional skills can help you throw your name in the hat for jobs that are tangential (related to) your line of work.
Talking about skills, they range from transferable skills to employability skills to entrepreneurial skills; you need to first identify what you need to develop to get to your goal.
10 Ways To Upskill & Reskill
For a while, at least until the economy bounces back, job survival is going to be highly dependent on skill set + personality + potential + pay = candidate approval. So, adapt to the idea of upskilling to solidify your chances, especially given that COVID-19 and Work From Home arrangements have paved the way for bonus hours (hours saved travelling) where you can work on yourself.
1. Analyse Your Strength V/S Weakness
First and foremost, the most important thing to do during this lockdown is to analyse your strengths and weaknesses against the skill demand in the job market of your chosen field. Based on the analysis, research the platforms where you can enhance your skills either through online training courses or through personal consultations online. This kind of focussed learning will not only strengthen your competency, but also allow you to stand out in a crowd of applicants in the competitive job market.
“Augmenting your current skill set and enriching the L&D foundation with a focus on developing soft skills and professional skills can help you throw your name in the hat for jobs that are tangential (related to) your line of work.”
2. Self-Paced Micro-Learning
Take a bottom-up approach to learning. You can choose to chart your learning curve by reading, listening to audio books, watching videos, working on practice sheets, signing up for courses, participating in live training sessions or even tuning in to hear lectures and webinars by thought leaders. The end goal is to upgrade your skills, hone your instincts, and be aware of the ongoing and future trends in your industry.
3. Manage Time Wisely
Understand the practical difference between effectiveness and efficiency; it is one of the most important skills to gain competitive advantage. Learn not just how to work hard, but how to work smart. Time management is just as important to ensure improved productivity in the same number of hours. You can consider practicing yoga for concentration which will help further in boosting productivity and managing time effectively.
4. Join Virtual Learning Conclaves & Events
The internet is flooded with a plethora of options for workshops/panel discussions and events organised online, both paid and unpaid. Be smart and sign up for the ones you would benefit from and schedule attending at least one session in a fortnight.
5. Seek Opportunities For Shadowing
If you are a working professional, actively seek opportunities to shadow leaders within your organisation. Shadowing serves as one of the most effective ways to upskill yourself as per the current market trends, and you also get to learn the best practices on the job.
“You can choose to chart your learning curve by reading, listening to audio books, watching videos, working on practice sheets, signing up for courses, participating in live training sessions or even tuning in to hear lectures and webinars by thought leaders.”
6. All-Round Development
Each one of us has a current skill set, however upskilling demands you to step out of your comfort zone, hence identify which are the skills you need to build on and have a planned approach to learn more about them. While it’s important for you to develop soft skills like time management, networking, team building and delegation, you also need to hone hard skills like adapting to new software, management platforms, and back-end systems related to your work.
7. Commit To A Professional Mentor
Finding someone who is experienced, trusted, and has lived through the job is one of the most common challenges faced by individuals. It’s important to note that guidance from mentors helps you find the right direction whether you are an entrepreneur, or a job seeker, or someone finding it difficult to climb the leadership ladder. You can find mentors in peers, leaders, coaches, and even business owners. Around 70% of the Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs in place as a part of their learning initiative meant to foster development.
8. Draw Conscious Learning From Real-Life Simulations & Experiences
Our lives are our biggest lessons, provided we concentrate on conscious learning from our real-life examples. Whether you are a student, working professional, or a start-up entrepreneur, you will come across various situations where your choices determine the fate of a situation. So, always be conscious about your learning environment, and note important takeaways from fellow entrepreneur friends, colleagues, networking events, investors, advisors, and the like. This will help you document your learning and apply the knowledge when it’s your time to make the tough choices in your career or business.
9. Importance Of Soft Skills
Soft skills that humans bring to the table cannot be dispensed by any technological advancement. As advised in recent survey reports by Deloitte & People Matters, soft skills would be considered as the most valuable skills in the modern workforce as human qualities like empathy, resilience, collaboration, delegation, team building, personal branding, etc cannot be replaced.
“Around 70% of the Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs in place as a part of their learning initiative meant to foster development.”
10. Build Your Professional Network
Enhancing your professional network on platforms like LinkedIn, Telegram, helps to enhance your market understanding, exchange of knowledge share, tap into current trends, and network to be on top recall when people hear about a job or new venture. Users on such platforms have the potential to influence, authorise, and make decisions about hiring the desired candidate. As a business owner, it allows you to directly get in touch with your target audience.
To sum it up, upskilling is important for your personal and professional gain which directly impacts the competitive advantage of your firm. It makes you confident, dependable, self-reliant, and knowledgeable to take up any role that comes your way. It would serve you well to upgrade proactively so that you always come out on top.