Your Skill Set
A re-evaluation of your strengths and some additional training can help you land your dream job
Unfulfilled: Dawn Loney, 33, supervisor, was managing a team that performed quality assurance at one of Canada’s five major banks, but she lost the motivation for what she called the monotony of her daily responsibilities. “My job became very repetitive,” she says, “it just wasn’t the right job fit for me.”
New Position: Corporate trainer, where she takes new employees through orientation, and trains them on corporate systems and company policies.
Her Challenge: At the behest of an internal mentor, Loney assessed her interests inside and outside of the office to help find her passion and took advantage of a company program which allows employees to temporarily try out various positions within the company. Loney temporarily worked as a corporate trainer, where she found her passion teaching others. In her dream job as a corporate trainer, Loney would spend six weeks with new employees showing them the ropes by instructing them on organizational policies. But Loney lacked specific skills and her company decided instead to hire a specialized expert in the field, who would require less training.
Her Strategy: Loney took adult education courses in classroom management and learning to work with adults with disabilities. She also participated in Toastmasters International, an oratory organization which helps members develop public speaking and leadership skills. She dug into her network, finding friends in the particular field of her choice and spent more than two weeks of her own time shadowing them in the position.
The Result: The on-the-job experience she gained as an informal apprentice gave her in-depth insight into what exactly the job required. After learning new tactics, she’d go home and do more research and practice explaining the information. “At the second interview I was very well prepared,” she says, having landed the position. “The recruiters said I was well versed and asked me about my action plan. They were impressed at the fact that I took it upon myself to learn that much about the position.”
What You Need to Know
It’s important to determine where you stand in terms of the skills you posses—or lack. “You can start with the job description of your current position,” says Sharon Hall, partner at executive search firm SpencerStuart. “In that description it will say you must have the following skills. That will give you a checklist against which you can assess your skills,” she adds.
Hall recommends reading StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath (Gallup Press; $24.95), and taking online assessments as well at StrengthsFinder.com. She also urges you to use the human capital around you: “Ask them, ‘What would you say I’m good at? What skills of mine are more pronounced in your judgment?’” Finally, talk to your human resources director and your boss to find out what skills you need to develop for promotion.
There are some clues to know when it may be time for additional training. “Your frustration level at work increases, the number of times you’re rated average as opposed to excellent increases, you’re not growing.” That’s when you know it’s time to assess. “If you’re in meetings and the conversation is just a little over your head, you didn’t pick up the last reference, or you have to say ‘I don’t know’ eight times a week, these are clear indicators of when you need more training,” says Hall.
Evaluating your skill set is not a one-time-only occurrence. An assessment needs to be done at least three times a year, adds Kenneth Arroyo Roldan, CEO of WBMB and author of Minority Rules (HarperCollins Publishers; $22.95), “You need to ask yourself: What skill sets or attributes am I lacking? Where do I stand apart from the others? This self-introspection will give you a clear understanding of your competitive edge.”
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