In the past few blogs, I discussed the results of a survey, Skills Based Approach, and in this blog I would like to incorporate what three authors write about in their articles: What’s the Cash Value of Your Brand, by Nance Rosen in Personal Branding Blog; How to Master A New Skill, by Amy Gallo in Harvard Business Review; and Why I Won’t Hire You, by Charlie Balmer in LifeHacker. These articles have valuable insights which coincide with the Skills Based Approach method; I am going to break the discussion down into the four steps of a Skills Based Approach: planning, building, presenting, and validating a skill set.
As a representation of your personal brand, Ms. Rosen says: “You are inextricably tied to your measurable assets, your hard and soft skill-sets. Skills would be the ‘meat’ of your personal brand.” And this makes sense, according to the survey: most of the respondents thought a skill set is an effective representation of a professional background.
During the planning stage, it is important to accurately assess the skills you need and how much it is going to cost to learn them. Ms. Gallo makes two relevant points: “Check your readiness… learning a new skill takes extreme commitment”; and “Make sure it’s needed… gaining a new skill is an investment”. Also during the planning stage, you make an action plan for developing a skill set so, as Ms. Gallo says, you should “know how you learn best”; ask yourself:
- Can I learn a web development language by reading a book?
- Should I take a course to learn about databases?
- How can I volunteer to gain experience with a skill?
In his article, Mr. Balmer discusses reasons why he might not offer you an interview and in doing so suggests benefits in adopting a skills based approach. He says you should consider the following, “show career plans or vision… have a story about why you want to come work for him, in the specific role… don’t bother applying if you don’t have the required skills”. Of course, if you have mapped out what skills you need and how you want to gain experience with them (the planning stage of a skills bases approach), you demonstrate vision and have precise reasons why you are seeking a position and know you have matching skills for the position.
During the building stage, you self-reflect on how well you are learning your skills. Ms. Gallo agrees, “Reflect along the ways, to move from experimentation to mastery, you need to reflect on what you are learning.” In addition, Ms. Gallo says you should, “Get the right help… if you can’t find a mentor inside your company, look for people in your industry or from your network.” Finding a mentor as you are learning skills is an effective way to build an expertise. Ms. Rosen also points out that you should “reach out to your audience before you need anything.” Start nurturing your relationships with possible references as you build your skill set, this way you can prepare them as they might testify regarding their experiences with you in the future. Finally, Ms. Gallo suggests being patient because developing a skill takes time.
During the presentation stage, you share your skill set with others. The gist of Ms. Rosen’s article is that you need to sell yourself and having a skill set will only get you so far. She says you should, “polish your delivery and presentation skills” and “do the work to become an expert in your industry”. You need to be able to use verbal and written communication to tell your story.
During the validation stage, you build credibility by validating your skills. The survey addressed the most common ways to validate a skill: references, sample of work, certificate, and years of experience. Ms. Gallo brought up another way to validate a skill that I had not considered; she says to “Challenge yourself to teach it to others. One of the quickest ways to learn something new, and to practice it, is to teach others how to do it.” Cleary, you can establish credibility with a skill if you can teach it to others.