This blog is the second in a series of 5, as I reveal my proven 5 step career planning framework that helps move you from floundering to flourishing. Changing your job or career takes time and effort but is so much easier when you can use a proven process like the 5 steps that ensures you don’t miss out any important things that need to be taken into account!
Step 2 is called ‘identifying your skills and natural talents’ and is a key building block in your own resource bank of information and self-knowledge.
What are core skills?
You may have heard the phrase ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills. In this blog I make the distinction between the two kinds of skills on purpose.
Hard skills are often learned or taught as formal learning and as such can be specific to a particular job or industry. Examples of hard skills include an accountancy diploma, fluency in a foreign language, knowledge of a particular software programme or experience in a particular industry sector.
Soft skills on the other hand tend to be things we teach ourselves to do and are not specific to an industry or job. Employers look for skills from both categories. Soft skills are becoming increasingly valuable to all employers as automation of processes continues to ‘’dehumanise the workplace. Your soft skills help others to understand how you will fit within their working environment and how you will perform as one of their employees.
Listing all the skills you already have and are competent in using is important. The use of skills lists is quite common for this and mainly related to specific kinds of jobs and industries as already noted. I therefore always ask my clients what they would want to add specifically to any skill list which can distinguish them from others…. whether hard or soft skills. This can take a while as it is very surprising how often skills get totally overlooked, taken for granted or even forgotten about due to over familiarity!
Another truth about skills is that it can be difficult to clearly identify what constitutes your own core skills when you have several in play in your job so this is all about analysing what you do frequently and how these interact together in your work. It’s a good idea to get the help of another person here who can bring some objectivity to the process. In step 1 you will have been encouraged to get some specific feedback from those who know you, in or beyond work, and this is good to refer back to. Most of us have at least a dozen or more skills we feel competent using once we have been working a while and it’s a confidence boost to actually compile a list and be reminded about what exactly these are.
What are transferable skills?
You may have heard the phrase ‘transferable skills’ when filling in a job application form or in career discussions at work. There are two essential ingredients to this – not only is competence required but enjoyment is also necessary for a skill to qualify as being a transferable skill.
We can all think of very competent individuals who have been heard to say they do not want to keep using all of their competent skills because frankly they are either tired or bored of using them in their work. In contrast, watching someone being competent and having obvious enjoyment from using certain skills is a sure sign that a transferable skill is present. Taking pleasure in some activities more than others is perfectly normal but always noticing which activities energise rather than drain you takes a bit of practice!
Everyone also has skills that may be ripe for developing and stretching more, or be rather undeveloped or even absent. These are rich lines of further enquiry in career planning and contribute fundamentally to our feelings of job satisfaction and choices we end up making.
What talents do I have?
Apart from looking at skills I also advise investigating your own talents. We all have them so now you may be wondering what yours are and why they matter.
Have you ever had someone say to you how easy you made a job look? Chances are that a natural talent is showing up and of course it will be totally taken for granted by you because it comes so easily! If you can do something with minimum effort and get great results every time that is also a strong clue that you have a natural talent helping you. Friends and family and colleagues can be really helpful here by pointing out the obvious to you.
Remember to think beyond the workplace when considering what your innate talents may be and where they show up most. Recognising and appreciating your own innate talents is still a bit tricky for many! As your talents come easily to you there is a real danger that you will consistently underestimate them.
Think about a time when you were unable to use a natural talent – how did that feel over the long term? Phrases like ‘I felt stifled’; ‘I’ve been blocked or stuck in a dead end job; ‘I can’t express myself fully working here’ or ‘I have no energy at work’ can be indicative of a poor ‘fit’ between the individual and their talents and the job environment or work culture.
Innate talents represent attributes that make us feel good and as such contribute to positive feelings of job satisfaction. Alternatively, if not allowed any expression, they can lower levels of job satisfaction, personal productivity and self-confidence if neglected.
So…..knowing your hard and soft skills, your transferable skills, developmental areas and your talents are all key pieces in your search for that next job or the new lifestyle you are looking for! Thanks for your time.