THE ESSENTIAL UPSKILL
Let’s face it: this past year has been a mess. There is uncertainty at the local, national and global levels, which has made it impossible for businesses to effectively plan for the future. That uncertainty has lead to massive layoffs the likes of which have never been seen. For those lucky enough to keep their role, it’s time to relax, right? Of course not. In fact, we think it’s never been more important to seek ways to rapidly grow your job skills, known as “upskilling.”
LOTS OF OPTIONS
Pursuing relevant education and training outside of work is not a new concept. Motivated, ambitious employees have always sought out ways to improve their craft and now more than ever to set themselves apart while increasing their earning potential. In the digital marketing and tech field, the options to do this are plentiful, convenient and inexpensive.
Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), like Udacity, offer on-demand classes to learn at your own pace. Software platforms, like Tableau and Hubspot, offer certifications you can earn with the right focus and dedication. Type “Training” after your job title on YouTube and you’re sure to get 1,000s of videos by “experts” willing to train you. And while certifications and credentials look good on a resume, results are the only thing that matters.
UPSKILL vs. RESKILL
Successful companies measure performance based on business impact, not credentials. That’s why upskilling should be focused on outcomes that demonstrate success in your role.
To be successful, follow these steps:
- Determine what the goals of your organization, department, and manager are
- Find learning resources that align with those goals
- Define or contribute to a project at work that requires you to apply your learning
1) DETERMINE GOALS
Seemingly everyone has adapted to the current environment, and your customers are no different. Knowing how that change impacted your organization’s goals is the key to understanding how to successfully upskill.
If you aren’t sure, talk to a colleague, manager or leadership. Start by understanding the company-wide objective, then continue to ask questions about your division, department, team and finally your direct supervisor.
Make sure to take notes and write down SMART goals whenever possible so you can measure success. Note: See box below for more details on SMART goals.
2) CHOOSE YOUR RESOURCES
As discussed earlier, there are countless resources for upskilling. Now that you understand your organization’s goals, you should select resources whose topics align. That will help define your search somewhat, however, there will still be plenty of options.
In order to further refine, it’s time to ask yourself some tough questions:
- What type of learner are you? Can you effectively learn from books? Podcasts? Online videos? Interactions with others? What about bootcamps or apprenticeship programs? Or a combination of the above?
- What type of support system do you need to succeed, and what support system do you have available? Will you stick to a schedule you set out for yourself, or do you need additional accountability? Can you create an efficient learning plan, or do you need guidance?
- How important is soft skill and leadership development to your career growth?
- Do you have anywhere to turn for quick feedback/guidance/advice if you hit a roadblock? Or are you okay going it alone?
The reason these questions are difficult is because you need to be truly honest with yourself to find the answers. Once you have them though, your decision will be much easier.
3) DEFINE YOUR PROJECT
Regardless of what resources you choose, you need to have a project or campaign where you can actually apply your learning. This will give you the hands-on experience you need to better understand how your theoretical knowledge can be applied in the real-world.
Time to review your organization’s SMART goals again! If you should see a pattern developing, you’re right. Creating and maintaining alignment between your upskilling goals and that of your organization is the best way build job security and accelerate your career.
This time though, you’ll be creating SMART goals for yourself. This is easier said than done, so don’t hesitate to ask for feedback from a colleague, mentor or manager.
While it’s tempting to design something that utilizes every single element you’re learning, resist! Focus on reinforcing the core skills first. This will allow you to build a foundation that you can continue to develop and is more likely to yield more impactful results for your organization.
Then, detail out the steps you need to accomplish the project. You won’t know everything you need to do. That’s okay! However, having an initial blueprint is critical.
Starting a new learning journey is exciting. The future possibilities that come along with career progression can transform your life and increase your earning potential. However, getting started can also be intimidating, especially if this is your first upskill experience.
Honestly answering the questions outlined here is a great way to help you think about your ideal learning setup. Finding the right resources will set you up for success in the long-run. Above all though, is making sure you have an outlet to apply what you learn, ideally aligned with your organization’s goals.
The steps you take today and in the short-term will have an exponential impact on your career trajectory. We are fortunate enough to witness and be a part of that growth through our tech apprenticeships; however, that’s just one way of rapidly upskilling.
One of the keys to our apprentice’s success is very calculated and collaborative goal-setting. Through feedback from peers, coaches, mentors and your manager, they are able to create a roadmap to success which leads to promotions and increasing your earning potential!
You too can create this roadmap. And while it will inevitably be adjusted as business goals change, you’ll at least be assured that you’re heading in the direction of career acceleration!