Time to upskill and get a better job?

Posted October 13, 2011, by Aziza Green

Ever get the feeling that life and opportunities are passing you by? Perhaps you feel stuck in a job where you are continually overlooked for promotions or maybe you spend your days groping around the Internet looking for a new job. The feeling of being stagnant in your career is frustrating and can lead to anxiety over job security.

If this sounds like you, it may be time to take action. Upskilling gives you the chance to develop new skills that will make you more attractive to employers – so you will no longer be passed over for those interviews and promotions.

If your career is not progressing in the direction you want it to, the best thing you can do is to get proactive and invest in your personal and professional development. With newly acquired qualifications and skills, you could move onto a career path that better aligns with your interests and goals.

So how do you know if it’s time to upskill and what skills should you start improving on?

Are you looking for a new job?

Have you sent out dozens of resumes and job applications but feel like you’ve hardly made a blip on recruiters’ radars? Or after every interview you get a phone call explaining that another candidate was more qualified than you?

These experiences are part of the job-hunting process for many people, particularly if you are just starting out or starting again in a new career.  However, if you have been actively seeking a new position but feel continually let down by your current skill set or experience, it may be time to upskill.

There is a clear association between the qualifications you possess and your ability to get a job. According to Skills Australia, workers will need additional qualifications in coming years, particularly diploma and degree qualifications. The areas of greatest skills demand will be in finance and insurance, technical and computer services, community and welfare services, university and vocational teaching, trades, sales and administration.

The first thing you need to do is to look at the required skills in the job ads that you are targeting, as well as the feedback you receive from recruiters. Do you tick all their boxes and have all the skills they want? If your lack of qualifications and training is holding you back, you should seriously consider further study.

You can also develop new skills by engaging in volunteer or work experience roles in the industry that you wish to enter. As well, many companies have internship programs that you can apply for, or provide in-house training to new employees.

Want to make yourself more valuable to your company?

Do you feel under-utilised in your current position? Perhaps your tasks are tedious or maybe they are so easy that you finish all your work by lunch and spend the rest of the day trying to look busy. This may by ideal for people who are trying to take it easy at work, but it may eventually lead to feelings of uncertainty as your role may be seen as unnecessary. If you want to contribute more, grow in your role and increase your job security, you will need to actively seek out more responsibilities.

Looking for opportunities to develop skills in other areas will not only expand your knowledge and experience, but will increase your professional value and send a positive message to your employer that you are enthusiastic and eager to grow with the business – highly desirable qualities in an employee.

When seeking out areas in which to upskill, it’s good to get the guidance of experienced colleagues. You could begin by speaking to your boss about areas of the business that need more focus or support. Once you identify an area that you can become involved in, jump right in by offering to help. Doing a course at the same time can help enormously too. Perhaps you could develop your administration or IT skills in order to help support the everyday running of the business.

Alternatively, you may identify an area in which your company’s competition excels, which you want to develop in your own organisation. For example, having a strong marketing strategy will translate to increased sales for a business, so you may like to add strong marketing skills to your repertoire in order to help your business move forward – and turn yourself into a star performer in the process.

Are you looking to progress and gain promotion in your industry?

Effective managers and strategic executives are highly sought after, and organisations are willing to pay top dollar for great leaders. As a result, managerial and executive positions demand a greater investment of time and energy.

Focus and hard work will be required if you are seeking to progress to an executive level. To get started on the journey toward your dream leadership role, it’s important to invest your resources into developing your management and leadership skills.  You will need to learn to manage people, budgets, projects and planning, amongst other things. Completing an MBA is particularly valuable, as it will foster your leadership potential and strategic thinking, as well as provide you with a qualification that gives employers confidence in your management abilities.

Another way of progressing to the next level in your career is to gain a higher qualification that builds on your previous education. For example, perhaps you have completed an undergraduate degree in your field that has taken you as far as you can go – and in order to advance, you need to take it that one step further, with postgraduate study. Now might be the time to complete a graduate certificate or masters degree in your area. 

Engaging in upskilling requires a forward-thinking attitude and a desire to grow and learn. Employees and employers should be committed to continual learning, to keep themselves relevant and up-to-date. Developing new skills may mean new responsibilities for you, but if you follow your passion and interests it will also mean greater job satisfaction and greater rewards.

Aziza Green

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