I had the pleasure of speaking with Daniel Bortz, a journalist and writer for Monster.com, about career skills. He asked an interesting question: How do you know (or how can you find out) if your career skills are up to date? His full article is linked here, and I wanted to chime in to share additional thoughts.
How can you know if your career skills are on par with your peers?
Daniel’s article includes some great tips. He recommends taking a look at your job description, if one exists; figuring out what soft skills you have that might need a tune-up, and paying close attention to your performance reviews. He also shares advice from other career professionals to ask for feedback internally and externally; take career assessments to understand your soft skills & how they could be further developed, and check out job postings in your industry.
In addition, I’d like to add a few more:
Check out what’s currently being offered for professional development for your industry.
At conferences, industry organizations, networking events, and trade shows, attendees learn what’s new and what’s next for the industry. You don’t actually need to attend the event (although it’s great if you can); just look at the session and topic titles to see what you might be missing in your professional skillset.
Investigate current training programs aimed specifically at your role or the role you’d like to hold next.
From entry level through leadership, training programs abound that will help you develop your career skills to meet today’s need. These programs might be technical (like software bootcamp programs such as Fullstack Academy or General Assembly), soft-skill focused (like SkillPath offers) or leadership-oriented (like Harvard’s Executive Education programming).
Check out the syllabus to see what gaps you might have in your portfolio of career skills. If you identify one or more gaps, you might want to attend one of these kinds of programs, or simply seek out opportunities at your current employer to get exposure to these career skills.
Check out the people coming in the door to your current employer.
All those new hires being interviewed? They hold important clues to your professional competition and what’s likely to be expected of you soon. If everyone coming in the door has a skill you haven’t learned yet, or if you hear from your management that the company’s in need of a particular career skill, pay close attention. You’re learning about the new yardstick that you’ll soon be measured against.
Ask a recruiter.
If you have a friend or connection who’s a recruiter in your field, ask if you can get a few minutes to survey them about what’s emerging in the profession. Are their clients (hiring managers) asking for particular career skills? Are some skills emerging that seem to be in high demand? As their hiring requirements shift, so does your overall profession.
Periodically scan the career landscape to understand how your skills stack up
Although conducting a regular career skills assessment might not be top of your to-do list, it’s actually one of the most important things you can do for your career growth and attractiveness to future employers.
The most effective job seekers are those who seek data, regularly keeping tabs on the marketplace to understand what skills bring a competitive edge and gaining the training they need to stay ahead of their peers.
Job seekers and professionals, what do you think? How can you know if your career skills are up to date? Any ideas to share about how to research what career skills are in demand in your profession?