With COVID-19 causing many Malaysians to live and work in the new normal, it’s time to take the opportunity to learn how to upskill and reskill yourself during the pandemic. Read the 10 tips below on to find out how.
Almost everyone across the globe is unsure of what the future holds right now - economies are either just starting to pick up or recovering and many people are still unemployed, so if you’re looking to switch jobs, just starting to look for one post-graduation, or are trying to hold on to your current position, the uncertainty of what’s to come may leave you feeling slightly worried.
And to add to that mix - the nature of work is changing too: gone are the days of sticking to just one company for the rest of your life, as more people are turning to portfolio careers - a way of working that incorporates multiple jobs across different fields. One popular estimate states that 65% of children entering primary school today will end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist.
Thus, in today’s pandemic-inflicted economy, it is important to be agile to the demands of the market. This means one should constantly pick up new skills, through upskilling and reskilling, and keep abreast of the latest developments in your respective working fields.
One does not necessarily need to spend a fortune or use much of your company’s budget allocation to upskill or reskill, as there are plenty of ways you can enhance your skills that don’t cost much. And if you are still stuck working from home, then there’s no better time to start improving your career.
So, let’s get right into it:
1. First, identify your objective
Make a list of your career goals so you can clearly identify what types of skills you need to build or enhance to achieve your career dreams.
What are you trying to achieve or improve? Why would you like to learn social media marketing? Perhaps you’re trying to start your own small business which would utilise a lot of social media. Maybe you just want to improve your soft skills like public speaking so you can become a more confident person.
Figuring out your goals helps you stay focused and narrows down the types of efforts you need to take. It could also help keep you motivated and driven.
2. Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Find out what they are!
When people ask you what your strengths or weaknesses are, can you answer it instantly? If yes, good for you. If not, we’ll share why it’s important to be able to do so.
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses aren’t just crucial when preparing for job interviews, it’s equally important to know your own qualities - or lack thereof - in general, for your own self-awareness.
And though many may get the strengths down, the same can’t be said of the latter because when we think of ourselves, very rarely do we think of our weaknesses. It’s human nature to ignore or push aside our shortcomings, and having the willingness to admit your mistakes and recognising where you can improve, comes with its own perks.
Run an individual skill audit via Barclays Life Skills’ wheel of strengths to find out what are your weaknesses and strengths.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to invest in your well-being and self-development.
3. Then find out how to improve
Now that you’ve understood what your strengths and weaknesses are, it’s time to take action to improve yourself. Figure out what you can do to reach the objectives you’ve set for yourself.
Sometimes this requires a lot of research, googling and asking around. For instance, if you need to improve your self-esteem, maybe it would be a good idea to sign up for professional classes or to get a life mentor who can help guide you through that. If you want to improve your technical skills, then you might need to dedicate more time to training or by taking courses.
Finding the right solutions to your problems is as important as figuring out the problem itself as not all solutions work for the same problems.
Read also: Job Loss Amid CMCO: How To Bounce Back From Retrenchment
4. Pick up a new language
In today’s increasingly globalised world, it is only to your advantage to be fluent in another language. Not only will you get access to more opportunities by being multilingual, but you’ll also learn to connect with more groups of people which will help in building new relationships, personal or professional.
You’ll have a greater chance of demanding a higher salary if you have the ability to speak and write in another language. But of course, this depends on the type of language - some are more in demand than others. If you work in the United States, for example, Spanish will be more in demand because of the higher number of Spanish speakers.
If you are working with a company that is involved in a lot of international trade, then it might be useful to pick up languages like Mandarin, Japanese, and Arabic - according to the World Economic Forum, Arabic is the 5th most powerful language in the world,
5. Build your LinkedIn network
The connection between upskilling and reskilling and LinkedIn may not be immediately clear but knowing how to use LinkedIn properly, and strategically, will help you get to where you want to be or need to, by connecting with the right people.
The impact that LinkedIn brings to the job market is evident - the platform now tops half a billion users in more than 200 countries, so clearly, it is a good site to connect to leaders, B2B networks, potential hires and business partners.
If you’re not someone who could naturally network or start a conversation with connections, LinkedIn is a good place to start - it’s like the training wheels on a bike. LinkedIn works because it’s a platform that teaches you how to be more visible, informed and attuned to the latest trends within your field.
But what exactly about LinkedIn should you know or learn about? Well, when connecting with people, you can learn how to customise your request invitations to fit a particular audience. Or you could also sharpen your storytelling skills and pick up social media management when you plan your own content.
Building up your LinkedIn profile takes real skills, and it's these skills that you’ll acquire if you use it often and strategically enough.
Millennials and Gen Z, who are typically more digitally-savvy than other generations, have the advantage of knowing how to acquire digital skills faster.
6. Learn to be more digitally-savvy
In today’s digital world, having basic digital skills no longer sets you apart from other employees compared to, let’s say, two decades ago.
Now anyone can publish content online if they know how to operate digital tools like Facebook, Twitter or Wordpress.
Additionally, the emergence of millennials and generation Z in the job market has made it more competitive as these two generations are typically known to be more proficient with digital tools - and though there’s some truth to that belief, it’s not entirely false.
Additionally, some of these digital tools are not that complex. With some training, practice and constant learning, anyone can be able to practice - if not master - digital tools that don’t require deep technical knowledge.
For instance, if you’re in marketing, it’s good to enhance your digital marketing skills. Learn the basics of social media marketing via Facebook ads or marketing automation or SEO etc. A lot of online courses, podcasts and webinars, teach the basics of these platforms.
7. Brush up your technical skills aka hard skills
If you’re an engineer or a full-stack developer or a graphic designer, now is a good opportunity to take your skills to the next level.
Create a new project or aim to achieve a new goal that is way challenging or difficult just so you can brush on those skills. Learn to take on more demanding tasks that challenge you mentally.
Other good moves would be to get a software refresher - as we can imagine, softwares would get updates from time to time, so it’s crucial that you stay up to date with the latest skills for that software.
For instance if you are a coder, you could learn a new coding language. If you’re not a coder, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you tried coding anyway.
With everything going digital, it would be super beneficial for you to pick up coding skills - who knows you may end up creating the next big app!
Typically, depending on the kind of hard skill, it may or may not be easy to acquire. Some of these skills are learned in the classroom, through books or on the job.
8. Make time to improve soft skills
Though historically hard skills are still a necessity due to the demand of the position, employers are increasingly looking for employees with particular soft skills.
Generally that’s because it’s less of a hassle for the employer to train a new employee in a hard skill than to train an employee in a soft skill. Often, someone’s soft skills are also associated with their emotional intelligence (EQ).
Those who have higher EQ are more likely to work better in teams, are more adaptable and flexible to change.
That’s why no matter how good a person is technically, or no matter how many on-paper qualifications they have, if a person doesn’t have certain emotional qualities they may not be considered for the job or may not be able to reach their full potential where they are.
Soft skills often relate to the way you interact or communicate with other people. Soft skills include: communication, leadership, persuasion, time management, problem solving abilities, teamwork, and work ethic.
Some ways to build soft skills is to shadow a boss or take up a mentor - you can learn to pick up these skills from people who are already practicing it. Learning from a more experienced colleague could help some shed light on what it takes to be successful.
Part of building soft skills also requires employees to have a growth mentality. Companies with high performing, and purpose-driven employees tend to have this quality. They are always optimistic about improving, knowing that there’s always room to be better than before. These employees also tend to push themselves more often as part of their effort to grow.
9. Volunteer outside comfort zone
Not only is volunteering a great way to give back to your community, it’s also a great way to build soft skills and help with career development.
But you may be wondering how, caring for a cause or for others through the selfless act of volunteering, which at its core is supposed to be altruistic, can be leveraged for personal or professional development?
Well first - it lets you explore growth opportunities that go beyond your daily scope of work. You could either be learning from online courses or leading projects that will allow you to nurture certain skills. You may also unearthed a hidden talent that you didn’t know was there before.
Most importantly, by being of service to others, you may come across like-minded individuals, and these people - peer volunteers and fellow community members - can help broaden your worldview professionally and personally.
10. Read, read and read!
Studies have shown that staying mentally stimulated - through reading - can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s and Dementia as your brain is continuously active and engaged.
Part of lifelong learning, reading helps shape our views on the world, and further develop our own philosophies of life. The theories and ideologies you come across when reading could eventually influence your career development.
Reading is so powerful that it is that one trait that sets successful people apart from the crowd. You may have talent, resources, are creative, and have a great network base, but the key constant among the top one percent of income earners is that they read a lot according to research carried out by habit and wealth creation expert Tom Corley. That same study cites that 85% of successful people read two or more self-improvement or educational books per month.
Takeaway: stand out by upskilling and reskilling
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the job market, making it more competitive than ever to secure a job.
Therefore, upskilling and reskilling have become essentials for all job seekers who would like to stand out of the crowd.
We wish all job seekers and working professionals good luck in their careers!
Also read: #StretchYourRinggit – How To Survive A Pay Cut During COVID-19