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5 Signs It's Time To Improve Your Skill Set

Apr 6, 2020

How long has it been since you last invested in yourself by learning new skills? Technology is advancing at a breakneck pace, and the skills needed for success in the workplace are constantly evolving. Maintaining job security means you need to continually improve your skill set—otherwise, you risk falling behind.

According to the World Economic Forum's 2018 Future of Jobs report, more than half of all employees will require significant reskilling by 2022, primarily given the way that the changing division of labor between human workers and machines is transforming the way we work.

Are you among the many employees worldwide whose skills will require refreshing in the coming years? As you reflect on this question and assess your abilities, here are five signs that it might be time to improve your skill set.

You've been passed up for one promotion after another.

Watching people get promoted ahead of you—especially if they haven't been with your organization as long as you have—isn't fun. While your first instinct might be to put in longer hours or to find ways to curry favor with your supervisor, the simple truth might be that the powers that be find your skills—including soft skills like communication and time management or technical skills related to your industry—lacking.

Take a close look at the requirements of that job you wanted, then compare them to your abilities. You might discover that you need a little more training in a specific area of focus before you can advance to the next stage of your career.

You're frequently asking others for help.

Asking for help isn't an explicit admission of failure; knowing your limitations and when to enlist the aid of colleagues to complete a task can be a sign of maturity. It's also an important aspect of problem-solving, which is a critical skill that every employee should possess.

But there's a limit to this line of reasoning. If you find that your job has become more complex and that you often have to rely on others to fulfill your responsibilities—or if nobody's turning to you for help with their challenges—then maybe it's time to expand your skills by taking a class, learning a new skill, or pursuing a new degree.

You notice that there are fewer positions available that use your skill set.

When you step back and take a big-picture view of your industry's landscape, what do you see? Are there plenty of job listings across the industry that target the particular skills you bring to the table? Or are the kinds of positions you're qualified for gradually disappearing?

According to the global research firm McKinsey & Co., automation and artificial intelligence will transform how every industry works in the next 10 to 15 years. While these technologies will bring numerous benefits, they'll also change the kinds of skills needed by employees across all sectors. If you see that roles similar to yours are dying off, it could be time to reboot your skills.

It's been a while since you last updated your skills.

Have you been coasting on autopilot for some time now? Have you settled into a comfortable but well-worn groove by relying on the same set of skills to accomplish similar tasks from one day to the next? Then maybe it's time to break out of your routine and push yourself to grow and learn more.

It's never a good idea to let your skills become stagnant—and that's especially true in a career field such as IT or business that changes quickly. Getting out of your comfort zone and shaking things up from time to time will keep your career moving forward and will help you demonstrate your value to your employer.

You're bored or frustrated with your job.

Learning new skills isn't just a way to stay relevant in your career. It's also a way to unlock new opportunities.

If you find that you're watching the clock all afternoon and you just can't wait for that 5 o'clock happy hour to start, it might be time to improve your skill set. Whether you're bored with your current role, frustrated with your job or your employer, or just thinking that it's time for a change, learning some new skills will position you well for whatever new challenge you might want to pursue.

As you were reading this, did you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios? If you did, consider the steps you can take to expand your knowledge. Obtaining a new certification or enrolling in a degree program could be a great way to refresh your skills and enhance your employability.


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