4 Steps to Learn and Grow Your Skills While Still Working
Why should you upskill yourself?
Learning new skills is one of the primary ways (if not THE way) people grow their careers. In fact, we might be living at the best time in human history for people to upskill themselves. Knowledge and training are more accessible than ever and skills gaps are at all time highs across industries.
Potential benefits of upskilling yourself
- A more fulfilling career doing something you enjoy
- Better pay and benefits to look after yourself and those you care about
- More flexibility and independence to choose the life you want for yourself
However, when you’re trying to change careers or rapidly increase your earning potential in your current profession you might not have the luxury of putting your life and career on pause to go back to school. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the best ways to upskill yourself while still on the job.
How to upskill yourself when you still have a day job
Upskilling yourself can be a time-consuming process that requires dedication and grit. When you have a job, kids, or other responsibilities, it’s easy to get sidetracked in your journey. When you follow these steps outlined below, you’re maximizing your chances of success and getting the career you want.
1. Research and design your career path
The first step in upskilling yourself is to identify what you want to learn or improve. Many people will pick a few areas of study that sound interesting and then find that the job is not a good fit.
Do your research first to find out what kind of career path will work best with your life goals. Learn what a typical day is like for someone with that job and see if it fits with your personality, preferences, and needs.
Here are a few examples of the kinds of questions you should be asking:
- What kind of schedule is typical for this role?
- Can I make enough money to have the life I want?
- Will I be interacting with other people often?
- Is this role a good fit for my personality? Will I be happy doing this type of work?
- How much flexibility is there around where or when I do my work?
- How much growth potential would I have in this type of role?
- Does this path align with my long-term goals?
Once you’ve found the right career path, start identifying the skills and certifications you’ll need to get where you want to go. Check out YUPRO Placement’s recordings of recent panels on how to break into and build your career in a variety of fields.
- Launching Your Career in Data Analytics with YUPRO Placement
- Break into & Build Your Career in Project Management with YUPRO Placement
- Break into & Build Your Career in Cybersecurity with YUPRO Placement
2. Build your network, find mentors and coaches
Networking with others in your field (or the field you want to transition to) is another important step to upskilling yourself. When you connect with people who are already established and experienced in these kinds of roles, you get valuable advice that will save you from making a costly mistake.
Mentors guide upskilling with deep industry knowledge:
A good mentor can provide value in the following ways:
- Help you evaluate which certification courses make the most sense for your career goals
- Give you the benefit of their experience and help you apply what has been successful for them in the past
- Advise you on how to handle difficult situations at work
If you don’t have a mentor in your industry, YUPRO Placement has access to mentors in all fields through our partnership with IBM SkillsBuild – sign up for access to the mentorship platform here.
Career coaches can help you bring your plan to life.
Similarly, a career coach can help you develop and execute your career plan by:
- Giving you guidance on how to design an achievable upskilling plan that aligns with your career goals
- Creating positive accountability to make sure you’re following your plan
- Providing feedback and helping you problem solve as you encounter challenges in your upskilling journey
3. Evaluating training and upskilling options carefully
More high-quality skills training is happening outside the walls of expensive brick and mortar institutions. Employers are increasingly supportive of hiring based on real skills rather than traditional four-year degree programs. However, we seriously recommend caution when choosing a training program.
Beware of unnecessarily expensive upskilling programs
We hear stories from candidates all the time who signed a contract with a bootcamp that required students to start making hefty payments once they reached a certain income level. These kinds of arrangements can create an unnecessary burden on many students, so please be sure to read the fine print.
Don’t let yourself get talked into buying expensive training when you could find the same thing elsewhere cheaper or for free. Remember, truly high demand skills are so valuable that many organizations will provide training for free or seriously discounted costs to the learner.
Check out these upskilling programs available through YUPRO Placement:
- IBM SkillsBuild
- Grow with Google
- Cisco Skills for All
4. Make a commitment to continuous learning
No matter which skill you’re trying to learn, you won’t master it overnight. If you want to upskill your way into a better career, consistent, persistent effort is non-negotiable.
The initial excitement of starting a new course or program will likely wear off after only a few weeks. When the goal of completing the program is too far into the future, most of us have problems following through when there’s so many other things to take up our attention in the moment.
If you want to go the distance, you need a daily or weekly plan for completing modules and doing the work while still managing everything else on your plate. Habits are something we do almost automatically without much thought or willpower. Making a habit of skill building takes effort at first, but it’s worth the payoff in the end.
How to upgrade your skills quickly and effectively:
- Pick a specific time and place to do the work. This is especially important for on-demand courses where it’s on you to get through the material.
- Anchor the work to another habit that you already do. Let’s say you want to make sure you spend at least 20 minutes per day completing your learning modules. If you connect that to another activity that you already automatically do like eating lunch, you’re more likely to complete the learning modules.
- Create a reward system for yourself. This often neglected part of intentional habit formation is actually a big deal. Whether it’s a fancy espresso, watching an episode of your new favorite streaming show, or playing video games with your friends, when you complete your upskilling work for the day you need to build in a reward for yourself. It doesn’t need to be big or expensive, but it does need to be there.
Upskill yourself, own your future
Upskilling may not be a cheat code for career success, but it is a vital component. There are fantastic career advancement opportunities out there for those who strategically invest in their skills in the way we’ve described above.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to upskill yourself and grow your career, reach out to us today at firstname.lastname@example.org and discover the path that’s right for you!