In one of our previous blogs, we went through the importance of grades and degrees when seeking a job in Canada. Depending on the role, competition and industry grades, higher education can a minimum requirement, but all employers are looking for transferrable skills and capabilities. Regardless of your educational or professional history, upskilling can be an excellent way to upgrade your skill set and differentiate your resume.
Upskilling - The best way to improve your skill set and differentiate your resume
What exactly does “upskilling” mean and why is it important?
“Upskilling” is when an employee or candidate learns new skills to improve their capabilities, and efficiency. This is especially helpful in dynamic fields such as IT or software engineering, where improving your capabilities and learning new tools is a necessity to keep up with an ever-changing environment.
Upskilling is helpful for people of all ages. Technology is changing the way jobs are performed and often forces companies to adapt to improve efficiency and remain competitive. The digital transformation in the last two decades, as well as the sudden shift to digital channels during the pandemic, challenged professionals in every industry to understand and adapt to unfamiliar platforms. Aside from improving your professional value, being a constant learner makes you more flexible and helps you develop a growth mindset that can help you in all areas of life.
How to upskill online
When used right, the Internet is truly an infinite pool of information. There are courses and certifications for every skill and hobby out there. These resources are just a few clicks (and often free or a few dollars) away, and the ease of accessibility has made it rare to see a resume that doesn’t have extra certifications on it.
Sites like Coursera, EDX, and even LinkedIn Learning and Google offer courses on a variety of topics. It is important to note that the value of a course isn’t always tied to its price; courses such as Google Analytics are free and are extremely useful for those looking for a career in digital marketing. Plenty of universities and colleges also offer online and flexible courses for you to complete at your own pace.
Here's an in-depth list of online resources that you can use to upgrade your professional skills.
How to upskill on the job
Upskilling can occur online as discussed above or on the job. It is likely through onboarding, working with your managers and more experienced colleague you have broadened and refined your skill set. However, proactively asking to take on extra responsibilities at your job is a great way to develop new skills. Such situations can help you understand other areas of your company. As a result of the Covid lockdown, companies have invested heavily in their LMS (Learning Management System) systems, and so you might be one click away from a goldmine of learning. Also, companies often offer external courses to their employees that can be beneficial for you. Check with your manager or learning & development contact.
How to upskill at your college or university
Aside from asking questions and approaching your courses with an open mind, looking for extra opportunities at your college or university can be extremely helpful. Group projects at universities also create collaborative situations where you can learn new skills from your peers and understand better ways of doing the same tasks.
These institutions also often partner with sites such as Microsoft and LinkedIn to offer their students exclusive courses for free or at discounted rates. You can also look up alumni from your college and university on LinkedIn and check their list of certificates to get a better idea of what can be helpful in the future.
Further, many degrees and diplomas offer a coop semester where they partner students with business where they can get some hands-on experience and upgrade their skills on the job. The benefit of this feature within an academic setting is you get experience for your resume and references when you graduate.
Do certificates and courses really matter when compared to a degree?
In most cases, an external certificate, certification, or course won’t be a good substitute for a degree. Will an online marketing course be an alternative to an MBA (Master of Business Administration) with a concentration in marketing? Of course not, but the ease with which you can access the course lets you learn new skills, help you expand your capabilities, and make valuable additions to your resume.
Think of it like this: if your resume is a glass that you’re trying to fill, and stones represent degrees and formal educational experience, external courses and certificates can be the pebbles and the sand are the skills you acquired during your academic journey and work experience. All of these let you fill your glass completely, and before you know it you’ll need a bigger glass!