As we continue to navigate the effects of the pandemic, we are finding that today’s job market is still highly competitive despite the ongoing Great Resignation and other complexities. As a result of this environment, and the rapid pace of technological advancement, upskilling has become more important than ever to future-proof your career and secure your dream role.
The challenges for job seekers are real, if not more nuanced than before the pandemic. This makes your journey as a job seeker as competitive as ever.
Because employers and hiring managers are facing a more competitive field of candidates, they are diving deeper and looking at both hard/technical skills as well as soft skills such as strong written and verbal communication, problem-solving, and critical thinking.
This is where upskilling can come into play and serve you well in getting the job, compensation and conditions you want most. Learn here about upskilling and how to make sure you are the top pick of your dream employers.
What Is Upskilling?
For decades, technology has been changing the workforce and how everyone works daily. At some point over the past decades, it all started happening so quickly that many workers started adapting in lockstep with the changes, especially since so much technology has become user-friendly and intuitive.
However, the changes associated with the pandemic and the future of technology will make new demands on employees; hence, the increasing reliance on skills assessment tests to help future-proof organizational roles and the employees who fill them. Additionally, you might find job postings where employers don’t require certain skills but will consider those same skills as highly attractive to their organization to stay competitive in a technology-driven marketplace.
Fortunately, you don’t need to take a skills gap analysis to know you should brush up on your existing skills to impress employers. Upskilling is essentially gaining additional skills that can benefit you and a future employer. There is no reason you can’t take it upon yourself to acquire new skills, offering prospective employers some expertise they might not have realized they needed.
Upskilling Is Not the Same as Reskilling
Some job candidates might confuse upskilling and reskilling, but they are distinctly different. Reskilling is often associated with an employee in a company who needs to fundamentally shift their skills in order to maintain an existing position that will eventually lean on advanced technologies.
You might also need to reskill if you want to shift industries or career paths. For instance, if you want to move from the manufacturing industry to transportation and from a warehouse worker to a driver, you’ll need to acquire new skills, training and licensure.
In contrast, upskilling involves acquiring additional skills that complement and enhance your existing abilities. These skills may also meet or exceed the qualifications that might or might not be required for a position.
An example of upskilling: If you want to become a project management professional for a construction company after working as a construction site safety coordinator, you will need to add to and enhance your skills with the following:
- Knowledge of or experience in interior renovation
- Experience with systems such as Procore, etc.
- Familiarity with scheduling software programs such as MS Project and Primavera
An easy and affordable way to up your skills are online courses. You can find broad selection of courses available for example on LinkedIn Learning. You can try them for free for a month.
There Are Several Benefits to Upskilling
Aside from the clear benefits of making yourself more marketable to prospective employers and adding personal enrichment to your professional life, upskilling offers additional benefits.
Upskilling Reveals That You Are Forward-Thinking and Eager to Adapt
When you take the initiative to learn new skills to earn a new job, employers will note that you pay attention to your industry’s trends and try to keep up or stay ahead of them. Such forward-thinking is invaluable to today’s employers, who frequently need to provide training for existing employees and new hires. Upskilling could save them training expenses and show that you are eager to keep learning and adapting to serve your career and organization.
Many organizations now hire people for learnability instead of existing skills only, so upskilling shows your willingness and ability to keep learning.
Upskilling Sets You Up for Career Advancement
You might think upskilling will get your foot in the door and into the position you want, but it can ultimately do much more. Again, your focus on monitoring industry trends and those associated with your position could make you a prime candidate for promotions, career advancement and eventual leadership roles.
Upskilling Displays Talent Mobility
True, today’s business leaders need employees who are upwardly mobile. However, they also need people willing to adapt in various directions internally, both laterally and vertically. Such a corporate environment ensures that one employee isn’t the only person who understands their role. In other words, one employee can take a vacation and another, mobile team member can step in to get the work done.
Upskilling Gives You the Keys to Identify Hidden Skills and Interests
You never know what could happen when you take new learning paths. You might discover a whole new career path or set of strengths you hadn’t considered before, which could lead to endless, new opportunities.
How You Can Start Upskilling to Get the Job You Want
You will probably scour several job postings related to your existing skills and job interests during your job search. While you want to ensure that you have the required skills for the position before applying, you should also scan sections that note any desired-but-not-required skills and explore how you might pursue those.
For instance, you can take virtual courses, evening classes or workshops outside of the workplace to boost your skillset. You could also watch online tutorials on how to use software applications and technology with which you’re unfamiliar.
Moreover, consider approaching co-workers you admire and ask if you can learn from them. They might be able to offer you some helpful advice and professional insight or may even agree to be your mentor. Additionally, volunteering is another great way to learn new skills and put them into practice. Not only will you meet new people and gain new insights, but you’ll also be doing good at the same time.
Determine whether obtaining certain skills could benefit you and your prospective employer. Even if you don’t get a specific job with the newly earned skills, you can certainly impress another employer in your field. Everything you do adds to your skills base, knowledge and ability to future-proof your career in a rapidly and continually shifting job market.
Nicole Marie is Senior Content Executive at Michael Page, an international recruiting firm. Before joining the recruitment industry, she worked in media and journalism. She now covers employment trends and insights in a variety of industries such as construction, technology and marketing.