How do I keep up?

If it’s been a while since you were working, you might be feeling a bit outdated in the workplace.

Long gone are the days where a skill you learned at school or uni would get you through an entire career. Now, possessing relevant skills to get your first job is important, but improving on those skills is vital to rising up the career ladder before the latest stampede of freshly skilled graduates overtakes you.

The struggle is real, and the answer is to upskill.

But how? It all sounds a bit exhausting! Don’t fear, the Internet is here. A source of endless knowledge and resources, you’ll be leading the pack with your exceptional updated skills in no time.

Assess yourself to refresh yourself

In the name of staying current in your field, it’s time to be honest with yourself and evaluate whether your professional skillset is still relevant, in demand, and has room for future earning potential.

  • Make a list of your skillset and then compare it to not just your job, but the jobs of those around you.
  • Look at current job advertisements and job descriptions and evaluate whether your skills match up to what they’re asking for.
  • Ask yourself what skills you could build on to make them more relevant and appealing to employers. Consider the direction of not just your own career path, but the direction of your industry as a whole.
  • If a particular skillset is no longer in demand – such as specialised software that is being phased out – then make it a goal to retrain, or re-focus that skill.

DIY online skill building

Consider upskilling a vital investment in yourself and something that should be done regularly. Some occupations require it – think those in the medical field or anyone who needs to keep on top of changing legislation – while others have to self-initiate their own skills building.

Access to the resources, information and knowledge that allow you to keep up is vital, and sometimes it’s up to you to find it…

  • Network online. These days it’s so easy to join an online forum or conference and browse discussion boards. Find the channels that relate to your field and tap into this deep pool of information for your advantage, at your leisure.
  • Set aside time to catch up on industry news, articles and papers to ensure you’re up with the play. Sift through online newsletters to subscribe to, journals, blogs and whatever else you’d like to see in your inbox. Once you’ve filtered out your selection, make it a habit to read a few of these every day.
  • Follow key industry players on social media. Not only will you hear from them directly, but they may provide links to other relevant resources.
  • Sign up to an online course that you can complete at home, or ask your employer to allocate time at work.

Upskilling in the workplace

Not all upskilling has to happen online while you’re at home, on the train or on your lunch break. After all, it’s an investment that benefits your employer, as much as you, so involve them when you can.

  • Ask your employer about existing professional development opportunities, such as a day of training for the latest software, management skills or other relevant skillsets. In return, use the knowledge you gain to take on more responsibility, offer problem solving suggestions or volunteer for extra tasks. Doing so may earn you enough brownie points to qualify for more upskilling.
  • Explore professional development and knowledge-sharing or collaborative training platforms not currently used by your employer. Suggest how it would benefit your role and the company as a whole, and not only you but others might benefit from it.
  • Shadow someone in a senior position to you, or a role that you require more knowledge about to complement your own. Ask them first, of course.
  • Network face-to-face. Yes it’s old school, but actual human interaction still has its place. Sign up for conferences, training sessions and industry events to gain knowledge and connect with people who can assist your upskilling goals.