How are you feeling about your career right now? Whether you’re happy where you’re at, vying for a promotion or you’re itching to do something totally different, upskilling – the process of improving existing skills or acquiring new ones – will help you on your way to that inevitable next step.
According to Careers Advice Online, the average person will change careers 5-7 times in their lifetime. This means upskilling is pretty essential to our growth and career shifts, especially when we consider the rapid rate that technology and the digital world continue to develop.
Read on to discover three different ways you can embrace upskilling.
Practical upskilling: Feel the fear and do it anyway
Reflecting back over your career so far, can you think of a time when you’ve been chucked in the deep end? Though daunting, learning ‘on the fly’ can be one of the purest forms of upskilling: it’s sink or swim. And as long as our nervous system doesn’t get the better of us, it gives us an opportunity to try things out and learn through doing rather than observing.
A study by Staffcircle revealed that out of 1,500 participants, a whopping 30% admitted to lying on their CVs in order to appear more experienced or skilled. While lying is probably not the best way to play it, especially when applying for a new role, there is something invaluable about jumping in the deep end and learning as you go.
PR Consultant, Chinazo Ufodiama, is a big believer in practical upskilling. Since launching the Unpretty podcast in 2020, Chinazo has expanded her skill set dramatically, which continues to open new doors:
“Since launching my podcast, the process of producing, editing and public speaking (in a safe format, like a podcast) has helped me become a much more confident public speaker and brought many opportunities my way.
“I now produce podcasts, alongside my podcasting team, get called on for speaking opportunities AND I can help my clients with their public speaking engagements too, based on my own personal experience!”
Find upskilling opportunities to fuel your passion
It can be nerve-wracking to step out of our areas of expertise. Feeling like the new kid, potential imposter syndrome and just generally feeling out of our depth are all factors that can deter us from stepping onto a new path. But, if your desire to change up what you do for a living burns bright, then looking around at the opportunities that are available within your existing company can be a great place to start.
Copy Manager, Rebecca Boffey, stepped into a new space within the company she was already working for three years ago, and hasn’t looked back since. “A few years ago, I was working as a marketing coordinator for a fashion retailer. I’d always had an interest in copywriting and found myself naturally gravitating towards the content team, always looking for ways to support them and their workload.
“So, when a role within the team became available, I immediately expressed my interest in applying. I knew I needed to hone my writing skills, but I remained confident in my current ability and was determined to secure the role.
“I set about researching and learning more about the brand tone of voice guidelines and wrote example copy for the team to review. The manager of the copy team gave me tasks to try and regularly shared constructive feedback which helped me refine my work until I’d nailed the perfect tone. The team couldn’t have been more supportive, and their encouragement helped me push past imposter syndrome to succeed in getting the job.
“I’ve since gone onto become the copy manager for two leading fashion brands. I directly attribute my progress to believing in myself and building on the skills I already had.”
Upskilling extends beyond the classroom: Read up and skill up
Perhaps this sounds a little obvious, but hear me out: If you have a desire to progress or even move into a different area of expertise all together, the value of reading up on and studying your area of interest cannot be underestimated. After all, our interest in exploring another career path hasn’t always fully blossomed.
Sometimes, after finding out more about what that path entails, we can decide it’s not the right move for us. Or maybe reading into that path will ignite your desire even further. Either way, it’s a great place to start.
Ashley Groves, founder & CEO of Deaglo, a technology-powered investment solution, can speak of the benefits of self-education first hand, as well as the pivotal part that social media can play within this: “I am a huge believer in upskilling. I didn’t finish university and instead gave myself an education through a carefully curated reading list.
“Most of my decisions as to what to study come through reflection around my immediate struggles. So, whether I’m having personal issues around sleeping, or business issues such as articulating the company vision, I will go deep into that.
“Technology and social media are powerful tools for finding someone that you can aspire to be like; speaking with them, learning about their mistakes and asking advice is the shortcut to life.”
This is testament to the fact that not everything you learn comes from formalised training and upskilling extends far beyond the classroom.
Top 3 tips for upskilling
1. Keep working on it
“The process of upskilling is continuous. Doing – and doing repeatedly – is the key part of upskilling, there is always room for improvement. Which is why you should hold yourself back at the beginning. Truly ‘mastering a skill’ takes time. Remember though: you can and will only get better.” – Chinazo Ufodiama, Podcast Host & Communications Consultant
2. Trust your gut
“Trust your gut. Deep down I knew I could do the job; I just had to push past my inner critic and go for it.” — Rebecca Boffey, Copy Manager
3. Put yourself out there
“I think putting yourself out there to successful friends and acquaintances and using them as occasional sounding boards is so valuable. You need to spread it around though or it can feel like you are being a bit of a leech!” – Ashley Groves, Founder & CEO