Why now is the right time to reflect on your future and upskill

Image licensed via Shutterstock / By Rawpixel.com

Image licensed via Shutterstock / By Rawpixel.com

Okay, so 2020 has been quite a year. But on the plus side, lockdown has at least given us a bit of space to step back and think about our lives more deeply. Part of which is asking: 'Am I really happy and fulfilled in my work?'

If the answer is less than a qualified yes, you're by no means alone. And so as things (hopefully) start to get slowly back to normal in 2021, it's the ideal time to start thinking about doing something about it. In the following post, we explain why you should take this opportunity to start upskilling and offer tips on how to do so.

This article has been developed in partnership with Created, whose flexible, remote courses teach you the skills you need to find new career opportunities. These hands-on courses focus on real-world briefs and have been designed to match the specific needs of the creative industries, to develop the very people companies love to hire.

Are you happy in your career?

There's no reason you have to stay in a job or career that's not making you happy. And so if you're not currently waking up every morning, joyous and excited about the day that's ahead of you, then you should probably start thinking about developing new skills that can bring you fresh opportunities.

As the saying goes, if you find a job you love, you'll never have to work a day in your life. And as we only get one life, what's stopping you?

The answer to that question might be a simple one: the cost. In which case, why not ask your present employer to pay? After all, if you have extra skills that could be used in your current role, such as a graphic designer getting trained in motion design, then the business is going to benefit too.

Get your employers to fund your training

Think about it: what boss wouldn't want their staff to be enthusiastic about improving themselves? So even if ultimately it's a no, simply asking will cast you in a good light. (Unlike, say, getting turned down for a pay rise, which has no upside. Even though, if you think about it, getting your training funded essentially is just that.)

The thing to remember is that though it might feel like a favour to you, you're actually doing your boss a favour. Remember that managers are generally expected to train their subordinates themselves... but in practice, rarely have little time to do so. Cast in that light, a request to fund your training is saving your manager a lot of work. And so as long as you can persuade them of the benefits to the business, they have every incentive to say yes.

Just make sure you present all the details in one easy-to-follow document, including cost, duration, expected results/qualifications and any impact the training will have on your ability to do your day job, such as needing to take time off. This allows them to make an informed decision, rather than having to go off and do their own additional research, which is not going to encourage them to say yes.

Why you need to think like your boss

What if you can't see a direct use for the training you crave in your current job? Imagine, say, you're a print designer who wants to learn the visual design skills that are relevant to digital design - but your current company doesn't currently have a digital presence?

The obvious answer is that you need to take the bull by the horns and convince your company they need to expand their activities. In the example we've outlined, that couldn't be more straightforward, because, in a pandemic world, virtually every company needs to develop a digital platform fast to survive, let alone thrive.

With something like motion design, in contrast, it might be more of a tough sell. But whatever the skill is, it's up to you to research the market and find the various opportunities it could offer your company to expand.

How to pitch your idea

Once you've built a convincing case in your own head, spell it out to your boss. Jealousy and FOMO are powerful motivators, so demonstrate how competitors are flying in this area and point to some of the great brands they're working with. Most importantly, talk their language, for example, rather than 'I' use "we" to show your solidarity for the company and wanting to see it succeed.

Pitch your idea confidently and correctly, and you should be pushing against an open door. After all, your manager will be able to show their own boss they're pro-active and forward-looking, without committing the business to hire new people.

Instead, explain to your manager that you'll take the lead and retrain existing members of staff once your own training is complete. If they agree, then as well as getting your training funded, you might be looking at a promotion for showing eagerness and initiative.

Why paying for yourself is worth it

Of course, ultimately there's no guarantee you'll get your company to pay for your training. Or maybe you're a freelancer who doesn't have that option in the first place. Either way, don't dismiss your dreams just for the sake of a few quid. Dig deep, think about what you could sacrifice in the short term for a better long term future, and shop around for companies that deliver high-quality training that won't send you into bankruptcy.

We're big fans of Created, an online academy that offers fully remote courses in visual design and motion design, developed with and delivered by top industry professionals, at very reasonable prices. They're highly flexible so that you can combine study with part-time or full-time work. And because their courses focus on hands-on projects, based on the creative skills that are currently in high demand, you quickly get a return on your investment.

Once you complete the course, you'll emerge with an up-to-date, interview-ready portfolio based on real-world briefs. And that will put you in a great position to get off the treadmill, push your work in the direction you want, and finally start loving your career and waking every day with a smile on your face.