Education does not end on your high school or college graduation day; rather, it is a life-long process that will see you continuously learning and bettering yourself so that you are the very best person that you can be. This is particularly true throughout your career: though you may start off with a particular set of solid skills, as you advance in your career it is a good idea to continuously learn and upskill yourself so that you have greater access to better job opportunities and become a well-respected expert in your field. Here are three steps that you can use as a guide for upskilling yourself to advance your career.
1.Return to university
Firstly, perhaps the most obvious way you can upskill yourself is to return to formal education and enroll at a university. You might consider a bachelors degree if you did not attend college straight from school, or a masters degree if you already have an initial degree and wish to specialize further. What you choose to study might have a direct link to your career path; for instance, if you are pursuing a career in finance an obvious next step might be a masters in economics. Alternatively, enroll on a course that will provide you with a skillset that can be applied to many different settings. With an online masters in education UK from the University of Exeter, for example, you will gain an insight and understanding of the teaching methodologies that can be applied to a number of non-traditional educational settings, from business training and development programs to consultancy.
You might be reluctant about committing yourself to an intense university degree program, particularly if you already struggle to keep a good work–life balance and do not think you have time to attend regular study sessions. However, many universities now offer online programs that are designed to enable flexibility in learning. By removing the obligation to attend weekly classes on campus, you can study in the comfort of your own home according to your own schedule. You can fit your education around your work, family life, and other responsibilities.
2.Participate in a mentoring scheme
In every field, there are people at different stages of their careers, from those at the top of their professional game to those just starting out. Mentoring schemes are a great way to pass on indispensable industry experience and knowledge so that the upcoming generations of professionals are nurtured to succeed in their careers. You might benefit from being on either end of the mentoring experience at different points in your career.
If you are early on in your career, and have a clear direction that you want to follow, you would greatly benefit from finding a mentor who has extensive experience of working in your dream role. With their guidance, you will grow your experience and skillset to maximize your chances of advancement and ensure that you can fulfill a higher position with both confidence and competence, so that you become a true asset. Some businesses or wider industries run mentoring programs. Alternatively, you might find your mentor yourself, by approaching a person in your company, or on LinkedIn, who you respect and admire.
On the other hand, you might currently be at a high point in your career, after having worked hard and gained a lot of experience to get where you are, and now feel that you have the expertise to give back by mentoring others just starting out in your field. Bear in mind, however, that being a great mentor isn't just about having a wealth of expertise and experience behind you. Skills such as delivering constructive criticism and active listening will enable you to push your mentee so that they can grow and get the most out of their mentoring experience.
3.Develop a mix of hard and soft skills
You may have come across the idea of hard skills and soft skills both being desirable in the workplace—but what exactly does this mean? Hard skills are specific technical knowledge and training relating to your industry, such as the ability to use different software suites or effective SEO marketing. Soft skills, on the other hand, are personality traits that affect how you work both on your own and in a team, such as effective communication, creativity, and teamwork. Both types of skills are important for advancing in your career, so it is important that you make time to develop them.
It is relatively straightforward to develop your set of hard skills, as these are quantifiable skills that can be learned. For instance, you might decide to enroll on an online course in mastering the Adobe software suite or programing languages if these are skills that are integral to your business. Particular hard skills are often essential elements on job descriptions for successful candidates, and gaining accreditation through a well-respected training provider is a great way to prove that you have the necessary knowledge.
As soft skills are often associated with innate personality traits, it can be more difficult to develop them; however, with businesses increasingly recognizing their importance, many training providers are developing training programs designed to help you develop your own set of soft skills. Effective communication, for example, is essential for the workplace to ensure that you clearly and effectively put your point across to aid understanding and avoid disagreements. Likewise, engaging in regular team-building activities, such as games and days away from the office, will help you to bond as a team to increase understanding and collaboration in the workplace, which will facilitate stronger and more effective working practices.
Continuous learning is an essential part of career development, and there are many ways that you can fit your education around a hectic work life. Online university degree programs and other training courses enable you to develop your skillset with flexibility, and mentoring programs allow you to benefit from the experience of a respected industry professional.