A recent survey by international recruitment specialist Robert Walters reveals that 9 in 10 professionals wish to upskill in 2024. About a quarter of them have already worked out concrete plans for this.
"These high numbers come as no surprise," explains Özlem Simsek, managing director at Robert Walters. "With the rapid pace of change noticeable in today's labour market - the shift to flexible working, the growing importance of ESG and the rise of AI, to name a few - many professionals feel the need to update their skills in order to keep up with the changes."
For 65% of professionals seeking further training, technical or hard skills are the primary focus.
With these skills, often linked to a certificate or degree, you can become a specialist or expert in a specific field. 30%, in turn, wants to focus mainly on improving soft skills. With these skills, which relate to the attitude and approach you take in your job, you can distinguish yourself from other professionals with the same profile.
But once you have decided to upskill, how do you know which skills will advance your career the most? How do you differentiate between the must-haves and the nice-to-haves? Özlem shares four overarching questions to ask yourself when you wish to solidify your upskilling plans.
The starting point is having clarity on who you want to be and why. Think about your current career and life. What drove you in the past? Was it everything you expected it to be? Reflect on key moments. Are you still enthusiastic about your current role? "Don't limit yourself to the professional aspect when answering these questions, but also consider your interests and activities outside work," Özlem adds.
Özlem: "Taking inventory of your current situation lays a foundation for further steps. Take your CV in hand and list your strengths, weaknesses, skills, certifications, values and preferences. Also ask others, such as friends, relatives or colleagues, for honest feedback."
Once you have a clearer idea of your career goals and your current situation, determine your desired endpoint and the timeline to get there. "Be open to exploring options that may not lead you directly to your career goal, for example, a horizontal career move or a change of location. This flexibility will increase your chances of progressing," Özlem knows.
In this final stage, the plan becomes concrete: what are the practical steps you can take now to reach your goal? First, identify the areas in which you want to upskill yourself, and list the resources you have at your disposal. "Involve your employer at this stage too," Özlem recommends. "In fact, Robert Walters' research shows that 59% of employers are open to offering training and education to increase the skills pool within the organisation. Almost two-thirds of them prefer to do this through internal training programmes."
These four macro questions will help you rediscover yourself and your career path. Even after this exercise, take time to regularly reflect on your progress, and further adjust your plans. Finally, keep in mind that it is impossible to continuously perform targeted work that leads to your planned career goals. So take a breather from time to time and remember to have fun in your professional journey.
Want to know more about upskilling yourself? Consult our career advice hub for other insights on managing your career effectively.
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