Up(Skill) The Ante: Why Reskilling Is The Key To Your Career Growth in 2021

Tread carefully when making a choice and identify the difference between what’s a hobby and what’s a skill.

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Source: docstockmedia / Shutterstock
Source: docstockmedia / Shutterstock

This unprecedented year of 2020 was different on many counts. It taught us many lessons, for one that nothing is permanent. The crisis came, and the crisis itself changed its face several times. It taught us about an important life lesson of dispensability.

We saw many unfortunately done with their jobs during this pandemic. Some skills became obsolete, many dispensable. One should see professional skills as software that needs an upgrade to stay useful and relevant with time. To be able to make a smooth come back or to stay relevant in a post COVID era, expanding our skills is a given. The writing on the wall is clear — upskill.

Unlike the baby boomers who used to stay in a company for decades doing the same kind of work, young grads and millennials are job surfers and risk-takers. In fact, according to a 2019 LinkedIn survey, nearly 61 percent of Indian millennials said they would consider switching careers compared to only 18 percent of boomers. The younger generation entering the workforce knows that they have to constantly reskill and upskill themselves. Whether they are fresh graduate or feeling comfortable  in a mid-level managerial position, the need for reskilling is growing even acute. For instance, a digital executive who may be an expert in developing a digital strategy needs to learn to blend his thinking into integrated communications and may need some new skills. Another example, that is a great practice in the automotive industry often seen is job swaps between sales and service skills to build a holistic career experience. 

When your skills stagnate, your career stagnates too. Acquiring new skills even as fresher will open more doors for you. You can expand your job search, expand roles, and even get more confidence. For example, an emerging marketer today must be part artist and part scientist. The individual must be well-equipped to generate not only artistic content but as well as develop a scientific mindset to do the number-crunching and measure performance. Being great at only one aspect is no longer enough.  

The good news though is that in today’s environment people don’t have to go back to college to get additional degrees and can head to online course providers to earn specialization certificates. The key lies in developing your core new skill with deeper content and without quitting your current job or your job hunt. By honing your skills and gaining relevant experience, not only your business but the personal brand will grow. Learning something new is the new trend and the idea of education has seen a paradigm shift. We are transitioning from a traditional college degree to real-life industry skills, like Elevate Masterclass programs offered by www. complimentors.com. The post-COVID-19 scenario demands that everyone from graduates and freshly employed to experienced employees become more agile and adaptable. 

While COVID-19 showed us all its darkest side, it gave an opportunity to individuals and professionals to take a pause, and reconsider their skills. Mercer’s 2020 Global Talent Trends Study revealed that the pandemic renewed focus on the need for reskilling employees as the skill gap came into sharp focus. According to the survey, while 82 percent of employees are ready to learn new skills, 99 percent of companies are embarking on a transformation this year and reporting significant skill gaps. Quoting what Shanthi Naresh, Career Business Leader, Mercer India mentioned in the report, “For employees, whether they want to join a new company or stay with the company, two things came up on this count — job security and development opportunities — because reskilling is what is going to sustain companies for the future.”

So, how to get started?

Young graduated and professionals know that they need to upskill, but they are confused about what skills would really help them in progressing professionally. Well, you have to tread carefully when making a choice. You have to identify the difference between what’s a hobby and what’s a skill. Learning how to hula hoop is fun but it will not further your career in the specific field.

What an individual can do is develop a beginner’s mindset irrespective of their years of experience. Some fundamental skill sets such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communications walk with you throughout your career, but they take shape differently with the maturity in career. Here are five golden rules to get cracking in 2021:

  1. Acknowledging your weakness is the first step to personnel development. Draw your roadmap of key competencies you want to keep building and march to perfection by enriching yourself with appropriate courses to get deeper skills.
  2. If you recognize you need guidance, reach out to your mentor who could be an expert you want to follow, your teacher, your supervisor, your peer, or your HR leader. The mentor can help you evaluate your interests and capabilities, explore your horizon, and then guide towards a skill development program that can help you achieve your ambitions.
  3. You can enroll yourself for short courses run by individuals or institutes. Prepare relevant notes that will come in handy in the future as well. 
  4. Set a realistic timeline to learn the particular skill as poorly defined learning goals often lead to procrastination. Track your progress regularly.
  5. Redefine the value of learning in your head. The opportunity to learn should be valued more than monetary benefits.  Short internships, shadow-the-leader initiatives should be up from grab at such times.

The current job market has been jolted by the pandemic. But the jobs are gradually returning and whether you will be hired or not will greatly depend on how well you have been preparing yourself. Working from home is a luxury, but with it comes the additional responsibility of not wasting precious time. You can transform adversity into opportunity by upskilling yourself and making the most of your social isolation days. By developing the right set of skills, you will be able to make a more meaningful contribution to your future employer and reduce a widening skill gap. Upskill and reskill so that you can be that champion who carries the organization across murky waters. 

The Author: Deeptie Sethi, is a global Communications Specialist and Co-Founder of CompliMentors, a purpose driven platform that curates mentoring relationships with an aim to empower young millennial to realize their full potential and achieve greater success.

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