Building Domain Knowledge

As you build skills, in many cases, you are also building domain knowledge.  You are becoming an expert in a particular discipline or subject; you are not only proficient in applying a skill but also have a repository of knowledge – something you can testify on. Expert witnesses draw on their knowledge when examined in a courtroom. Two professionals might have the same skill expertise, but have very different knowledge bases. With a skills-based approach, you want to distinguish your domain knowledge in the presenting and validating stages.

Domain Knowledge

Building skills and domain knowledge

My father went to school for engineering and has run his own business for more than thirty years. His skills relate to mechanical and industrial engineering, business management, etc. However, his knowledge has to do with fluid flow and thermodynamics.  He is the leading expert regarding air moving and heat transfer applications in Western NY. An engineer who needs equipment for these types of applications consults my father and is ensured he will recommend the right solution because of his knowledge and experience.

My brother teaches law at a reputable university. His skills relate to copyright law, policy analysis, and intellectual property (according to his LinkedIn profile). However, he has deep domain knowledge in social infrastructure – transportation, the internet, and the environment. In fact, he is a thought leader and speaks across the world on this subject.

So a skill set does not necessarily capture everything about you, your domain knowledge is also important. As you present and validate skills, you should find ways to let your audience know about your domain knowledge. Probably the easiest way is to maintain a blog. You demonstrate knowledge by posting insightful posts and commenting on other posts on a regular basis. Providing a sample of work is another way; a publication indicates you are an expert on a particular subject. Finally, passing a certification or license, such as a CPA or Bar, ensures you have the necessary knowledge to practice the profession.  Building skills also involves learning domain knowledge, another important element of your rational or functional value.

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