Sometimes, navigating a career can be so tricky that it feels like a full-time job on top of a job. When you finally land a dream job, some of your stress, self-doubt, and maybe even cynicism disappears, but the work of figuring out what comes next in your career— and the work of positioning yourself as to keep your options open— never entirely goes away.
Take it from one of my old clients. Although, together, we had succeeded in steering her career path away from a job and a company that didn’t value her, she didn’t want to feel “stuck” in the new role either— even if, at the time of our conversation, she did feel happy with it She still asked me, how can she continue her professional development?
The advice I gave her is straightforward, and it applies to both job seekers and those who are not actively “on the market” but are still looking to advance: it’s time to learn new skills.
Of course, learning new skills is easier said than done. Setting aside time outside of work in order to build your skill-set takes a certain level of discipline and hard work that not everyone is willing to put forth.
But lucky for you, if you are ready to challenge yourself and grow professionally, we live in an age in which learning materials are more accessible than ever before— thanks to the internet, there’s a massive online open courses (MOOC) industry that is projected to be worth over $25 billion by 2025.
This means that you can find useful skills to learn for jobs and be instructed by experts in many fields through platforms like Masterclass without even having to leave your home. This level of convenience is unprecedented and makes all the difference for those who may want to develop new skills but have other commitments that make leaving home to attend a class a drive away unrealistic.
But, just knowing that you should learn new skills and having the tools to learn them doesn’t necessarily give you insight on what the best career skills to learn are. Here are 5 great areas where you can consider upskilling as a way to boost your professional profile:
- Cybersecurity and IT
It should come as no surprise that tech skills are in high demand in 2022.
In previous years, the general IT demands of companies were not met by the personnel they had on board. During the first wave of Covid-19, for example, companies worldwide reported spending $15 billion per week just to keep up with the everchanging tech demands of newly remote workers.
Aside from other high-demand skills in the IT/tech space like,
- Cloud computing
- AI and machine learning
- VR and augmented reality
- User-experience design
- Mobile app development
some of the best job skills to learn are specifically ones that make you an asset to companies looking either to create or to enhance their cybersecurity systems.
This is because throughout the pandemic, there was also an 83% increase in phishing attacks and 62% more instances of malware. As a result, 35% of companies are making recruiting cybersecurity professionals a priority.
Herein lies an opportunity. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “techy” person, it is still valuable to get an overview and learn the fundamentals of this area in case cybersecurity is of importance to an employer— and based on the data, chances are that it is.
- Video and audio production
Anyone who spends time online has probably noticed that alongside Instagram reels and TikTok videos, podcasts are having a moment. In 2022 (and years moving forward, presumably), some of the best job skills to learn relate to content creation; especially if you’re able to fine tune your video and audio production skills, you’re giving yourself a significant professional edge in a content-crazed world.
And the numbers don’t lie either. The demand for video marketing content is up, with 54% of consumers wanting to see more video content for companies and brands in which they are interested. Companies have seemed to notice because in response to this demand, 87% of marketing teams utilize video assets.
Honing your video production skills is a great way to distinguish yourself and show initiative, especially if you’re working for a smaller company that does not have a dedicated creative or marketing department.
Audio content also proves to be important in the space of digital marketing. More than a third of people worldwide listen to at least one podcast a month, which means that it could be useful for you to bring audio production skills to your team or company.
Here are some resources to get you started on your video and audio production journey:
- OpenShot is an award-winning free video-editing software that is very intuitive.
- Udemy has compiled a list of free video production and editing courses.
- Smart Film School offers a course on smartphone video production for beginners.
- GarageBand is beloved for its simplicity and functionality. If you’re a Mac user, Garageband is a great place to start recording audio.
- Audacity is another great audio production application for PC and Mac users.
- Foreign languages and translation:
The world’s getting smaller— sure, the actual distance from the US to Asia or the US to Europe might not be changing, but the level of communication between people in totally different parts of the world has increased rapidly. So when you’re considering the most useful skills to learn for jobs, you definitely want to think about multi-language fluency.
Compared to our European counterparts who are commonly bi or even trilingual, Americans just don’t have that level of multi-language fluency. This means that if you do, you instantly stand out in your chosen profession. In fact, for US companies, employees with skills in Chinese, Spanish, and French are in the highest demand. And, a study found that speaking a second language can add 10-15% to your salary.
- Data analysis and statistics:
For companies across the country, 2022 is all about becoming more data-driven. How? Well, consider Netflix. Netflix has developed sophisticated data modeling based on consumers’ viewing choice, and they’ve used the results to drive content purchasing to fit consumer tastes. By doing this, Netflix was able to raise their value to $50 billion in 2020.
Marketing in the 21st century is all about metrics. If you are able to create promotions and campaigns that are rooted in data analysis, you prove to be more effective in reaching your target audience and marketing objective. So, if you are able to contribute in collecting and analyzing data, you will be unbelievably valuable to many different companies in many different industries.
Some ways to get started in improving your data interpretation are:
Applying Data Analytics in Marketing, a free course taught at the University of Illinois.
Intro to Statistics, a free eight-week course from Stanford.
Foundations of Data Analysis, the University of Texas course that gives you the basics of stats and data analysis.
Most people think that creativity is genetic: you’re either born creative or not, kind of like you’re either born a blonde or not. But hey, you can dye your hair, and by the same token, you can also become creative, even if you may feel less creative than others naturally.
You may have been expecting a hard skill here, but creativity is consistently one of the most in-demand skills that a candidate or employee can show. As much as 94% of hiring managers agree that it is important to factor in creativity when considering a candidate. This means that when you consider the best job skills to learn, creativity should be at the top of the list.
Yet, too few of us take time to build our creativity, either because we don’t believe that creativity is a skill you can build or because we just don’t know how.
78% of college educated professionals over age 25 stated that they wish they had more creative ability, so how do we stop wishing and start actually unlocking those creative skills? For many of us who already have creative hobbies such as journaling or drawing, it could be as simple as carving out the proper time to devote to these things.
If you feel like you’re in a creative rut, you may even consider:
- Redecorating a room in your house or apartment. Start from scratch, pick a fresh color, seek out some new decor to spice things up. This doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money; a can of paint and some carefully thrifted items can go a long way. This type of activity challenges you to see different possibilities and follow your intuition, which are important parts of being creative.
- Taking an online drawing class. Drawing is a great way to get a fresh perspective. Sometimes all you need to do is channel your inner kindergartener and take on a fearless approach to creating.
- Pick up a musical instrument. Studies show that playing an instrument is one of the best things you can do for your brain, boosting gray matter and neural connections that are important for creativity.
It’s never the wrong time to challenge yourself. Whatever of those five skill(s) you choose to explore and cultivate, it will prove extremely advantageous to you in your career— and life.
There’s no day like today, so get learning!