Feeling like you lack the skills required to continue on your desired career path, or that your current job isn’t for you, and you want to pursue something new? It’s common to question your skills and where you’re going in your career, especially in an age when dozens of millennials are turning to flexible freelancing opportunities, traveling the world as digital nomads and becoming food bloggers that actually make money.
 
We have good news! You can empower yourself to get that career you dream of by upskilling. Learning new skills has always been key to professional growth, but it’s becoming more important than ever as the world becomes increasingly digital.

Decide what skills you should be pursuing

Unsure of what skills you need to get into the career you’ve been eyeing? Start off by thinking about what you love most in your current work to decide what skills make sense to get into next. Considering the entrepreneurial path, or perhaps becoming an in-demand web developer? Try to verify if you’ll actually enjoy starting your own business or programming computers by asking those around you who already do these jobs. It can be as simple as asking people from your network for a quick coffee. Consider reaching out on LinkedIn, Twitter or even Facebook.

Take a product manager’s approach to deciding what skills to pursue

When going through the exercise to consider what skills you need, consider it from a product manager’s perspective. A product manager aims to create a product that is in-demand from the market, what they would call having “product/market fit”. Essentially, your career is a product, and it should be treated as such. You need to be in a place where the skills you have to offer fit what the market is demanding. Skill up in areas that are in-demand in the current marketplace to achieve this goal. Consider opportunities like product management itself, coding, digital marketing or even data science.

Consider changing jobs within your company, and having them foot the upskilling bill

Love your current company and work culture, but not your job in particular? Consider changing jobs within your company, and getting your company to pay for your upskilling course. For example, if you’ve spent five years working in sales, but you’ve always had your eye on what the user experience designer one desk over is working on, perhaps UX is the right career path for you. Don’t look at your years of experience as wasted, but valuable in the skills you’ve gained.
 
Make it clear to your boss that although you love the company, you want to move on to a different role to try something new and sustain your motivation. Offer solid reasons for why you might be good for the new role. For example, having worked in sales means you have a full understanding of the customer, which is extremely beneficial in a UX design position.
 
To top it off, it couldn’t hurt to ask if your company would be willing to fund a part-time course to get you to the right level to make the switch. If your boss realises you’re invested in the company, he’ll likely jump at the opportunity to invest in you.

Figure out where you’ll take your upskilling course, and how much you want to spend

Take advantage of HR tech tools
There are loads of options for training if you’re keen to enhance your digital skills, no matter what your background is. Do you want online, in-person, long-term, part-time, full-time, one-off? The choices are endless! 
 
There are many free online course offerings on the market right now, like Coursera and edX. But these options require you to be self-motivated, and not paying for them means a huge drop-off rate for many students. On the other hand, in-person courses can get pricey, even if it means you’re more likely to show up and complete the course. Think of the money you spend on a course as an investment in yourself and ultimately your future, leading you to be the best version of yourself. What’s more important than that?
 
Benjamin Cranwell, a graduate of General Assembly’s full-time web development course, was in the army for 10 years. He lacked computer skills but decided to apply for the course anyway, and was accepted. He’s now a front-end web developer and says he’s “very satisfied, working at a great company. There are still daily challenges in all aspects of the job, but I have a good team around me to learn from”. He adds that he's never, at any moment, regretted the decision to take the course.

Keep your network strong so you can find the very best job opportunities

Once you’re skilled up, you’ll need to find work, especially if you’re not staying in your current company. This is where your network becomes key. In bigger cities especially, there are often dozens of free tech events that will allow you to meet others like you. Try checking Meetup.com in your area. 
 
To get the most out of events, find out who’s on the list beforehand to figure out who you might want to speak with, and don’t be afraid to walk up and introduce yourself at the event. Remember, most people attend events to network as well, so they’ll likely be keen to meet you.

Now that you’ve decided to change your career, don’t be afraid to make the leap

Sometimes it means cutting off a source of income right away (by quitting your job) instead of waiting for the exact right moment, because that may never come. Remember that even if you feel vulnerable, you’re definitely not alone. Plenty of others just like you are making the decision to upskill and transform their careers every day!
This article was provided by General Assembly. General Assembly is the leading source for training, staffing and career transformation specializing in today’s most in-demand skills.
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