Reneé Zung
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Career Consultant

As a Certified Career Transition Coach, I have assisted outplaced candidates for over a decade. During the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have shifted overnight and showed how agile they can be, while employees have learned how to navigate the remote work environment. The shift to the virtual workforce has provided the right environment for new leaders to emerge. A year later, companies need to address and train their virtual workforce and prepare them to meet business needs.

 Companies will need to integrate digital technology and train their current employees for the transformation. New hires will need to bring strong technical skills and pass skills assessments. Companies will need to invest in upskilling. HR departments will need a plan to train existing employees in communication, analytical skills, decision making, computer literacy, project planning, needs analysis and priority management.

In 2021, the focus should be on the employee and enhancing their skills through upskilling. By investing in upskilling, companies build a culture that values their employees. They provide new growth opportunities for those that excel and reduce the natural attrition of valued employees who would otherwise grow bored or feel stagnant.

Upskilling lessons for companies.

 The digital age is here to stay, and companies need to prepare their employees to keep their competitive edge. Upskilling increases productivity and reduces the cost to recruit or hire new employees. Here are three ways companies can upskill.

 1. Create learning and development programs.

Teach others with learning and development programs that are bite-size—otherwise known as microlearning—online or in webinars.

2. Include on-the-job training.

    On-the-job training, job rotation, skip level meetings and mentoring programs can help take your employees and your company to the next level.

3. Encourage outside training.

Provide time during the workweek to take online courses through platforms like LinkedIn Learning or Skillsoft.

Upskilling lessons for individuals.

It is in your best interest to always be learning skills that will be needed and wanted in the future marketplace. Start with the mindset that you are a continual learner. Inventory your strengths, look at themes in past performance reviews and ask past and current managers and colleagues about your skills. Recall what skills you are consistently complimented on or rewarded for. If your company is not investing in you, it is time that you invest in yourself.

1. Find someone who has a skill set that interests you.

Once you have found them, reach out and ask them how they do it.

2. Take a course online or at a community college.

There are so many different ways to continue your education without pursuing a degree full-time.

3. Utilize online learning organizations. 

 Online learning organizations like LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Google Analytics Academy, General Assembly, Udemy and edX are great examples of platforms that offer courses. They can help you learn the latest skills and better position you for current job opportunities.

Upskilling lessons for job seekers.

As a job seeker, you must hone your current skills and learn new skills to be competitive in the post-COVID era. I encourage job seekers to ensure that their skills and relevance are stated clearly on their resume and LinkedIn profile.

 Job seekers should continually evaluate their resumes to ensure they showcase those skills to prospective employers. Below are some ways job seekers have been able to transition careers by promoting their skills differently.

 1. Focus on results.

Experience is experience; it does not matter where you get it—on the job, taking a class or volunteering. Focus on what you did and what you accomplished rather than on the organization where you developed those skills. Keep the attention on the skills and value you have to offer to the organization. If you can bring in new clients and effectively build relationships in one industry, odds are you can do the same in a different or related industry.

2. Translate your experience.

Be sure your resume, cover letter and other communications are free of acronyms, jargon and specialized terms exclusive to one industry. Translate that language into terms that are relatable to your new target audience. The goal is to translate your work experience into comparable skills people in your desired industry will find meaningful.

For example, in your professional summary:

Rather than, "Senior-level, financial services project director seeking to bring expertise to a new industry."

Try, "Hands-on senior project manager with extensive experience in the financial services and healthcare industries."

3. Be consistent.

You should not highlight only on your resume. As you tweak your resume to focus on your new skills, remember to do the same for your LinkedIn profile, cover letter and your 30-second introductory pitch.

To compete in this job market, you will need to have basic computer proficiencies in Microsoft Office and video conferencing knowledge. Evaluate your resume and remove any reference to outdated skills. Keep your resume up to date and current—you never know when you will need it.

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Reneé is a client-focused Career Services Consultant as well as a workshop and webinar facilitator. She brings over 10 years’ experience providing career transition coaching to executives, senior managers and individual contributors.