Jake Gibbs | November 13, 2015
Napolean Dynamite once lamented that no one would go out with him because he didn’t have any good skills (specifically nun chuck skills). While his dating quandary is sad, what is worse is when we find ourselves in a skills dilemma with our careers.
Skills – be they software, speaking, leadership, organization, marketing, or countless others – largely determine our job success, our market value, and our career potential. The more skills we have and the more polished those skills are, the more impact we can have on any project that we’re involved with.
We’re living in a time that requires ongoing skill development, not just a college education. New software, new tools, new frameworks, and new processes are the norm for most industries. If we don’t take the time to enhance our current skills and expand to new skillsets, we may find ourselves outdated, outperformed, or working far below our potential.
To stay on the upward path of skill development, consider 4 questions on a regular basis.
For this discussion, we’ll focus on career-related skills (Sorry juggling, rock climbing, and underwater basket weaving).
Think about what your current or future employer wants in an employee. If you’re in leadership, ask what your company needs in you as one of their leaders. Do you need to be well-rounded and decently good at a lot of things – becoming a “Jack of all Trades”? Or is it better for you to specialize? Either way, consider these types of skills.
Take an inventory of yourself. What are you good at? What do you know? What are your weaknesses and strengths as a person and worker? Are you utilizing your skills to the fullest in your job capacity?
If you were good at x or knew y, where would it take you? Determining what skills you need is a matter of personal introspection and largely comes down to where you want to be and who you want to become. You may find yourself climbing up the skill ladder but find your ladder is on the wrong wall.
You don’t need to do everything well. I’ve met CEOs with incredible leadership and management skills that don’t know how to make a Powerpoint presentation. That’s ok. You just have to decide what you want to become an expert in.
You may need complementary skills to the ones you have. For example, I learned graphic design on my own after deciding that it would be an excellent sidekick to my marketing background.
Conversely, you may need to completely shift gears. Like switching majors in college, learning completely different skillsets only makes sense if you feel your current path is way off from where you want to be. Making a shift in skillsets is challenging, but rewarding as long as it leads to the right destination.
Skills take time to develop, but thankfully we’re in an age loaded with information and resources. You can literally learn anything you want.
If accreditation or structure matter, then formal education at a trade school, university, or online courses like Lynda.com are best. If not, they you have incredible flexibility. You can self-educate through online resources, books, mentors, and personal projects that you create for yourself.
Developing skills is highly rewarding on a personal level, and as a bonus it leads to greater career success as well. As you make a lifelong goal and habit of skill development, you’ll look back and be amazed at how much you didn’t know.
Happy skill seeking!Back to Blog
Jake Gibbs is a Design Specialist at ListEngage and an expert at designing and building elegant, cross-platform compatible, mobile responsive emails and landing pages on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. From brainstorming and ideation to polishing the final product, he loves the creative process. Jake has worked with more than 60 clients since joining ListEngage in 2014. Some of his projects have included L’Oreal, Vanguard, Carhartt, Harvard Business School, RCI/Wyndham, Huggies, and Planet Fitness.