How Upgrading Your Skills Improve Your Career Prospects
A young software engineer, barely in his forties, was attending a job interview. After spending 15 fruitful years at two reputed companies, he was now applying for a better post elsewhere. In the middle of a great interview, the company’s CTO asked him if he could work on the R language. Ah! Here came the thunderbolt, for he wasn’t adept at R. Though he did get that job, he could have got a plum position had he known the required skill. But wise as he was, he didn’t waste time and promptly enrolled himself for an online course in R.
What he did was he re-skilled himself. It is time one asks, “are my skills outdated?” Why do skills get outdated in the first place? Because the world is progressing at a rapid pace, and technology is fast outpacing industry by leaps and bounds. What you learn in your college days becomes redundant in a few years, unless you keep pace with the latest trends. The industry doesn’t expect that what you learned in 2020 should serve you for the next 25 active working years of yours. If you update your mobile phone for latest features and versions every few years (or months), what’s wrong if the industry expects that from its employees?
Why bother about skills all over again?
If a skill is earning you your livelihood, shouldn’t you be world class at it? How often do you sharpen your tools? The last few decades have witnessed the replacement of manual labor by robotics and automation. And a similar trend is emerging in the knowledge and information industry. Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, Software Developers, Management Professionals, all need to keep themselves abreast of the latest innovations in their respective fields. If the field you are in hasn’t seen major changes in the last few years, it will, soon. Moreover, you always have a fresh generation coming up behind you, equipped with the latest skills. How would you keep up with the change if you remain stagnant?
How does one keep up with the change and with the competition?
Through a three pronged strategy of
· Skilling- If you don’t know something, learn it.
· Re-skilling - If you have learned it long ago, refresh it.
· Up-skilling - If you know something already, learn something more, now.
Be world class at what you do by pursuing continual education. Enroll in evening classes in your city or pursue online courses at your own time and pace. We all know of several mid management leaders who take the sabbatical offered by the company to pursue education while in their thirties and forties. Why do you think they do this? Obviously, to remain relevant and provide valuable inputs to their organization, thereby improving their career prospects.
Studying ends, learning never stops
· Learn at least one skill every year to a degree of proficiency that someone will pay you for it. Music, coding, culinary art, photography, foreign languages, anything that delights you and would serve you good in the long run.
· Understand what are the skills required in your field that can take you higher and pursue those.
· Set aside a budget and allocate time for learning. The joy of learning something new, mastering a skill or gaining knowledge will be compounded by a feeling of security that you are constantly evolving skills will never let you down. (For added benefits, the spouse and the kids will be amazed to see you learning and growing)
· Join Professionals’ Forums, Communities of practice, online groups or get people pursuing similar courses together. That way you know where you stand and sharing actually enhances learning.
· Read what’s happening in the world around you. Chat up with college students and youth too know what’s new and in vogue.
· Get a mentor. And it could be through the reverse mentoring process also, if need be.
Knowledge is the currency of the future and one would definitely benefit by gaining (and sharing) more of it.