To get a new job you often need a new set of skills.
In a nutshell you need to know the skills you need and you need to know the skills and experience you have. The difference between the two is where you should focus your learning.
As simple as that sounds, it’s very rare that people act upon it and hence they have skills gaps which need filling. Once you know what the gap is you can start to put plans in place and a schedule of learning.
The earlier you become aware of the skills you need, the more chance you have of obtaining these skills ready for when you’re job hunting.
Start now. You never know when you might be on the open market looking for a role. If you can hit that market with supreme skills and experience then you will stand a good chance of getting the job you want.
Be realistic though; the chances of becoming a guru in any field in two weeks is slim, but at least you can start to explore what’s involved and put the wheels in motion.
What sort of context do you want to work in?
The sheer diversity of jobs within most industries clearly shows that there are a number of different contexts that you could find yourself working in.
You will feel more comfortable with some contexts than with others.
You will want to work in some rather than others.
I prefer start-ups and rapid environments; some people prefer slow moving environments that are risk averse. Some people thrive in retail, whilst others like the joy of physical work. There is an industry and type of company for everyone.
However, I would suggest that you build a variety of skills that could be utilised in a number of different environments; you never know where the next job may come from.
The more industries you can work in, the more jobs you will have available to you.
You will need to learn
You may find yourself having to apply for a role in a context that does not come naturally to you. If this is the case, you need to ensure you have the skills and mind-set to get the job.
Learning and building your skills should be a core fundamental aspect to remaining relevant.
Learning about core career skills (like accountancy, technology, law, etc.), people skills, communication skills and general industry trends will set you apart from the norm.
Going to work, doing the minimum and playing video games all evening will not set you apart…unless of course you want a job playing video games.
Having the ability to learn will help you to stand out from the crowd. Your ability to learn will mean you can diversify, specialise or take on almost any challenge thrown at you. This is the type of person who will thrive; the person who can change.
Of course, finding time to learn as a busy parent is tricky. Really tricky. Without increasing your knowledge and experience you’ll struggle to move on from where you currently are though.
“Permanent beta is essentially a lifelong commitment to continuous personal growth.”
Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha – The Start-up Of You
What skills do you currently have?
It always pays to do an audit of your skills and abilities.
Spend some time listing out your abilities (the things that seem to come naturally to you), your skills (the techniques and approaches that you have learned) and your industry knowledge (the information and knowledge you have about the domain you work in).
Having your abilities, skills and knowledge (ASK) listed will give you a good idea about what else you might need to learn, but it will also give you a good reference point to refer to when applying for roles.
A good way to work out what value you can add to a team is to keep a notebook handy with you throughout the day and record all of the times you demonstrate your ASK.
It is also a good idea to do this outside of work too as you may find you have a transferable ASK from your home life into your work life.
I tend to keep a journal most days and jot down my own observations, thoughts and ideas. I can then refer back to this over time. Not only is it a good reference point but it is also a good way of clearing my head of thoughts about the day.
You could do this journaling technique each day for a week, or just pick one or two days a week over a period of time. Whatever you choose the important thing is to identify the value you have which would be an asset to others. That is not the sole reason for journaling but for this exercise it is the main focus.
- Did you solve a tricky technical problem?
- Did you facilitate a great meeting?
- Did you stop an argument from exploding into a fight?
- Did you stop a fight from exploding into a riot?
- Did you find a significant process improvement by using a new tool or approach?
- Did you build a good working relationship with someone at work?
- Did you listen well?
- Did you make a significant number of sales by trying something new?
- Did you help a colleague understand something?
- Did you introduce a new technology?
There are loads of ways in which we all exhibit both positive and negative behaviour whilst at work. Document as many of these as you can. They are all deep insights and learning points. Don’t just focus on your skills, look at the bigger picture.
The goal is to find out what value you have, what aspects of yourself you need to improve and what things you need to stop doing.
Until next time.