Establishing a skill set through time should be a primary goal of every professional. The definition of a skill set is the combination of skills you have acquired throughout your professional, educational, and other experiences. A skill is an attribute required to complete a particular task, some of them include: business analysis, professional writing, project management, graphic design, web design, application development. I believe a logical progression in establishing your skill set can be completed in four stages: planning, building and cultivating, presenting and validating.
A skill set should not only be comprised of skills you are competent in but also skills you need to achieve a desired career path. Planning for the development of it involves defining each skill and then considering how to acquire experience with it. There are many ways to acquire experience. If you are a college student, this might include taking a course, applying for an internship, or joining an extra-circular activity. And if you are an early career professional this might include taking on a particular project at work or joining an organization (for example joining Toasters to develop the skill of public speaking).
Building and cultivating a skill set involves executing your plan: following each step in sequence, focusing on developing each skill, and evaluating your success. If learning the skill has been effective, figure out new ways to advance your expertise with it. However, if you are not doing well with the development of the skill, you should figure out other ways to develop it or consider removing it from your skill set. For example, consider you took a course in business writing because you wanted to develop professional writing. If you struggle with your professional writing in the course, you must consider other ways to learn professional writing or reconsider whether you should have it as part of your desired skill set.
Once you have established a footprint with your desired skill set, you should begin presenting it. There are a few ways to do this. First, you can use your skills as keywords on your resume and perhaps add a section dedicated to list them. Second, most of the online professional web services (such as LinkedIn and MonsterJobs) offer ways to present it and ways for potential employers to search through them. Finally, establish linkages between the application of a skill and its use in an employment responsibility, educational project, or an interest.
There are two concepts behind validating your skill set. First, once you have developed a particular skill, you should find ways to achieve awards, certifications, or licenses that demonstrate your success with it. In addition, you can find references to acknowledge your proficiency. Second, you should make it accessible by prospective employers, co-workers, or clients; they should have a way to review it.
The development of your skill set should be a lifelong commitment. It should challenge you to continue to improve yourself, while continually reevaluating who you are and what exactly you want to achieve with your career.
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