Employability Skills

Never forget to check for the employability skills you already have before charging out in search of the qualification that will get you “The Perfect Job”.  If you are an active personality type (by which I mean that you take action when change is required, not that you are at the gym 7 days a week….), you might be finding the low energy of dark January almost unbearable. If you are not enamoured with your job right now, it might feel even harder to get up and get involved everyday. This conflict might be the trigger for radical change. Radical change could (?), be an over-reaction to seasonal inertia.

By no means am I saying ‘tolerate’ (or worse!), ‘be grateful’ for what you have if it does not suit you. What I am encouraging you to do is to acknowledge that you might already have the employability skills you need. You might be able to tweak your work situation in order that it is more satisfying for you without too much effort. You might benefit from taking a look inwards before seeking radical change in the outside world.

Some years back I worked with a series of Maternity-Returners. It transpired we needed to engage with a real translation process. The skills they used in parent-hood were more than relevant to the work environment, they simply had the ‘wrong’ names. One Mum had 3 children, of 2 genders, by two different fathers, who went to two different schools. She was a fabulous Mum, but neither she nor the employability world could see what she was really doing. Can you imagine how much “project management”,  “conflict resolution”, and “creative problem solving” She had done by 9am! The journey that she took between 6 and 9am was called “getting the kids to school” in her world. This was before she showed up at work……… Her endeavours and brilliance before 9am went unnoticed and continued invisible and thus unrewarded.

Whether you are a parent or not, there is something for us active-types that means that we can dismiss our capabilities as “nothing”, because we find them easy. We think that everyone can do these things and thus we do not value them. When we do not notice, value and celebrate them, they remain invisible. When our skills remain invisible, then we neither use them to their full capacity, nor get rewarded for them out in the world. These skills trundle on in the background, like an acknowledged computer operating system. It is our responsibility to name, honour, and make visible our unique combination of abilities in order that can share them to their full capacity. This way we can be generous with our skills. This way we can choose how and when to use them in service of our professional journey too.

The solutions? Take reflective time: Pause, breathe, and begin a list of all your employability skills. Your skills will come from your work world, they will also come from your other realms: from your personal life, from pro-bono roles you have had, from activities you enjoyed when you were small. Do a real sweep of your entire life to date. Divide them into Skills, Capabilities and Personal Attributes if you that helps to keep the exploration as wide open as possible. Draw it, list it, mind-map it, whatever works best for you. Harness every single thread that comes to mind. Keep a note over several days, keep adding to it, This rigorous process will give you a really holistic picture of your employability skills.

When you feel you have run out of ideas, challenge yourself to generate 10 more. When you have generated 10 more, and only then, begin to translate you words and phrases. Some of the things you have written may already look like employability skills. some may need making work or indeed sector friendly. Use a thesaurus to find the professional term if you need. You will know better than me what translates within your industry sector. Write it, breathe it in and claim it.

When you have this multitude of threads that comprise You, and you can see just how complex and multitalented you are, this is the place from which to make a truly sound career decision. Drop the idea that you lack something this January. Work from the place where you know, value and celebrate all that you bring to your professional world. Make that information visible and you can do anything you wish. Valuing all that you bring might mean you can shift into the role or sector you desire without radical change. You might just find you have a majority of what you need already. This is the way to find your Perfect Job. This is purposeful professional development.

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