The Ultimate Career Guide for Enhancing Your Skillset

COVID-19 has had a dramatic effect on the job market. While recent graduates and new employees have felt the burn the most, the pandemic was just as disastrous for workers well set on their career paths.

As the pandemic continues, expect a massive change in the working landscape regardless of where you are. Therefore, now is the right time to update yourself according to the ‘new normal’ heading your way. Now is the perfect time to update your skillset.

Skills Matter Now More than Ever

A skillset is defined as a “collection of skills and abilities that can be applied to a professional or creative endeavor”. It’s the combination of knowledge, qualities, and abilities that individuals develop through their lives and careers.

And here’s something you should know about by now – skills are now more valuable than your degree.

Why Skills are More Important than Formal Education

Employers are beginning to focus less on degrees these days. In fact, IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty said, “Getting a job at today’s IBM does not always require a college degree.”

What caused this shift in perspective is that relevant degrees may not always cover the skills required to perform a job. In fact, a four-year degree might help you get your foot in the door and secure a job interview. However, the skills you have and will gain over the span of your career are what will fuel your career growth.

Other reasons why degrees are less important than skills for today’s workers are

Jobs Require More than Confined Knowledge

If there are one lesson businesses learned from the pandemic, it’s that they need to be prepared for uncertain situations. One way of being prepared is by having a workforce that is ready to multi-task when required, adapt to different scenarios, face challenges, and use problem solving strategies. And as you can see, these demands are skills rather than knowledge imparted during formal education.

Technical Skills are a Necessity

Technical skills are vital for today’s workers. Business intelligence, project management, IT security, help desks, and more are largely in demand. However, these require individuals going beyond formal training and continuously adding to their knowledge. Especially since they’re constantly changing according to current needs.

Skills Give Job Seekers an Edge

There may be hundreds of people applying for the same job as you. They too may share your alma mater and your choice of degree. That’s why interviewers go beyond educational qualifications and focus on practical skills. And expect to be more valuable if your skills help businesses generate revenue.

Types of Skillsets

Now that you understand the importance of skills for today’s job seekers and those employed, let’s get to their types.

Skills are divided into two main types: soft skills and hard skills.

Soft skills are interpersonal skills and personality traits which enable individuals to communicate and work with others. Some examples of these skills include:

  • Adaptability
  • Conflict resolution
  • Leadership
  • Time management

On the other hand, hard skills are technical skills that add to your profile. These are usually earned through training or practice. Some examples of hard skills are:

  • Accounting
  • Event planning
  • Graphic design
  • Translation

Soft and hard skills can be further broken down into three categories: hybrid skills, transferable skills, and job-specific skills.

Hybrid skills combine both hard and soft skills. This is the type of skills most companies will seek while assessing a job candidate. For instance, a digital marketer will be expected to effectively handle conflict arising on social media and manage the company’s CRM.

As for transferable skills, these are skills that apply to all jobs regardless of level and industry. For instance, most employees should possess problem solving (soft skill) and writing (hard skill) skills to excel.

Finally, job-specific skills are hard and soft skills that are developed through education or on-the-job. These are usually the skills an employer lists when writing job ads.

Signs Your Skillset Needs an Update

One of the biggest reasons employees stops developing their skills is because they feel comfortable in their current jobs. However, this can change easily anytime. In fact, you may have reached the point where you need to work on your skillset to remain ahead of other professionals.

Here are some questions to help you determine if you need to begin updating your skills.

Do you feel bored at work?

If you’re no longer challenged by what you do, you’ve become too comfortable in your current job. Without challenges, you may lack the motivation to learn new skills. If this persists, it may be easier for your employer to replace you with fresh talent who have the skills they need instead. Especially since they cost less to the company.

When was the last time you had a raise?

Companies tend to reward individuals who contribute the most to their bottom line. If you haven’t had a raise in quite some time, you need to assess whether your services are of value to your employer. Maybe a chat with your line manager will help you determine which skills you need to develop to provide value to the company.

Are your current skills being utilized?

If you feel your current skills aren’t utilized to the utmost, chances are they’re not what the company currently needs. This is especially true if you notice changes in the scope of your job role.

Do you feel there’s room for growth?

Feeling that you currently lack a few skills is the biggest indicator you need to work on your skillset. In this case, be proactive and define which set of skills your company needs and you believe can acquire.

Your answers to these questions will help you assess whether or not you’ve been in a rut skills-wise. And if you think you are, the next section has all the answers you need.

Tips to Develop Your Skillset and Boosting your Career

Acquiring and mastering skills may be hard work, but it isn’t impossible. Just keep the end goal in mind and follow these tips to improve your skillset.

Identify the skills you want to add to your profile

You should make a list of the skills you wish to develop. Some of these can come easily to you. For instance, you may want to develop leadership skills to better lead your team. Or you may want to learn graphic design to complement your copywriting skills.

To be able to make this list, ask yourself two questions:

  • What is it that I want to learn?
  • Why do you want to learn it?

Based on your answers, you can come up with a list that you can prioritize according to your personal and career goals.

Decide the most convenient method for you to gain new skills

There are several ways you can gain new skills, some of which your employer will gladly help you with –

  • On the Job Training – This is one of the best ways of training without leaving your workplace. Ask your employer or line manager to hire a trainer to help you and other employees who wish to build on their skillset. Make sure to back up your request with ample information to ensure quicker approval.
  • Courses and Workshops – You can easily enroll in courses or workshops taking place in your city or virtually. The latter are a hit with most employers since they’re less expensive than conventional training sessions and workshops. Therefore, you can ask your company to cover some or all of the costs of this training.
  • Self-Paced eLearning Courses – If your schedule can’t accommodate traditional courses, e-Learning is an excellent alternative. Self-paced courses allow you to study at the most suitable time for you, wherever you like. All you need is a device that’s connected to the internet.
  • YouTube and Podcasts – Lots of people have been picking new skills from YouTube videos or podcasts. These are available any time and may be free of cost.

Establish a routine to build your skills

Having a study plan will help you build your skill quicker and easier. You should also determine the best time to learn or study depending on your personality. For instance, if you’re a morning person, you can allocate an hour before work or your lunch hour to work on your skill.

Make sure to never skip any days. Your persistence indicates how committed you are to developing your skill. Without it, learning a new skill will be close to impossible.

Practice what you learn in the ‘real world’

Some skills, especially soft skills, can easily be practiced in your daily routine. For instance, you can practice ‘communication’ by drafting more comprehensive memos or guiding your teammates on a task.

You can even share that you’re expanding your skillset with your line manager and have them entrust you with new tasks. With their feedback, you can further improve and mold your skills according to the company’s needs.

Get the support you need during your training

While you may be doing this for your personal growth, you don’t need to work on your skills solo. You can engage your managers to guide and support you as you build your skills. In fact, some will do it happily since this is a cheap way to transform you into a valuable asset for the company.

At home, you can ask your partner to support you during your learning. Initiatives such as giving you space and handling some of your chores are the equivalent of positive encouragement. And that’s what you need to accomplish your new goals and enrich your skillset.

Don’t Wait Till Tomorrow to Develop Your Skills

One last tip to conclude this guide – get started right now, not later. You may feel extremely motivated now, but you may forget about what you’ve read by tomorrow. So, don’t delay this and begin your journey towards building your skills.

And luckily, you’re just a few clicks away from adding knowledge, skills, and a new credential to your professional profile. Check out our list of courses to pick your next certification and some great skills which enrich your career..

About the Author

Ayesha Saleem is the Senior Specialist Content Development Person at LearningCert. Interested in travel and blogging, she's passionate about everything related to eLearning and IT Trends. Find her on LinkedIn

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