How Upskilling Can Help Advance Your Career

The Prepped Team

July 21, 2020

4 minutes

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This probably sounds basic, but to do your job, you actually need to be good at your job. Simple premise, but the better you are at what you do, the more attractive of a candidate you are to employers. But sometimes there are opportunities to expand your skill set and explore new ways to adapt what you’re already good at. That’s the foundation of upskilling.

What is upskilling?

The most straightforward definition of upskilling is learning new skills that will help you do your job. Upskilling can happen in a couple of ways: your current employer can provide you with the resources to upskill. They understand that the better you get at your job, the better it would be for their organization. The other way upskilling can happen is if you take on the challenge of filling in the gaps in your skills yourself. You see an opportunity to learn and grow in a way that would make you a more valuable asset, and you take that opportunity. In either case, you should understand why upskilling is important and how it can help elevate your career.

What is the difference between reskilling and upskilling?

Upskilling and reskilling are similar but have one major difference. Upskilling is learning new skills to do the same job. Reskilling is learning new skills to do a completely different job. Reskilling can also involve teaching someone new skills to learn a different job. In a shifting job market where millions of jobs can be replaced with the advancement in technology, it’s important to keep both upskilling and reskilling in mind. This article, however, will focus on upskilling.

Why is upskilling important?

Upskilling is important both for employers and employees for different reasons. For the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on upskilling for employees, specifically.

Benefits of upskilling for employees

  • It allows for faster growth opportunities.
  • Keeps you engaged in your work and makes you a more valuable asset.
  • Improves your skill set, which can be used in your current job or new opportunities.

If you’re not in your career job, upskilling becomes a means of making you more employable. You should be researching the skills necessary to do the job you’re searching for plus any additional skills that would make you a more ideal candidate. For example, if you’re a copywriter, it might make sense to learn some basic graphic design skills. This will help you understand what your copy would look like when presented in its final form. It also makes you more efficient because you’re not depending on designers to do this work for you.

What skills should you develop, and how should you develop them?

What skills you should develop totally depends on what industry you’re in or trying to get into. If you’re just looking to broaden your general skill set, there are some in-demand skills you should consider. Those include editing, video production, UX and bookkeeping.What’s important after identifying the skills you need to develop, which should be done by researching your industry, is how you upskill. Consider using online resources such as LinkedIn Learning, Udemy and Coursera. These are paid options, although each offers either a free trial or some free courses, but when you’re trying to upskill it can be worth the investment. You should also look for how-to videos, webinars and other forms of content online to help improve your skill set. But don’t forget about offline.Upskilling offline is more about applying those skills and learning how to adapt in the moment. Volunteering, for example, is a great way to put your skills to the test when the expectations aren’t as high. You can experiment a bit and get a feel for how you would function if you were in a more significant role. Interning is similar, and you should definitely be active in searching for opportunities within the organization to learn from different groups. For example, if you’re in communications, ask to work with the marketing team once a week and take notes of the skills you’ll need to be successful at their job. And when all else fails, you can always start your own business. This is the ultimate upskilling. You’ll have to learn several skills in order to have any kind of success. But if you take the experience as more of a training exercise, you’ll be more aware of the skills you’re learning and the areas where you lack.

Technology and its impact on upskilling

Technology has played a significant role in the need for upskilling. It acts as both the cause and the solution for why upskilling has become so important. As current technology advances faster than ever and new technologies are introduced, there are constant skill gaps that need to be filled. These skills need to be learned and adapted quickly, and that’s where technology plays the other role. It becomes a resource for how you can upskill at a pace that matches the speed of how technology is changing.

Prepped can help you understand your current skills

By upskilling, you are filling in the skills gap and making yourself more attractive to hire. Leave time in your busy schedule to read up on emerging tech or current trends to stay relevant in today's ever-changing environment. Close the circle by having a strong cover letter and resume to complement your skills. Don't ignore your current skills, either. Take our skills and capabilities module to better understand your current skills, so you know what skills you have to learn.Sign up for Prepped to access our tools and templates that can help improve your chances of getting a job by up to 6X*.

*Songqi Liu, Jason L. Huang, & Mo Wang (2014). Effectiveness of Job Search Interventions: A Meta-Analytic Review. Psychological Bulletin, 140, 1009-1041.