Re: New Thread: Other Skills

Subject: Re: New Thread: Other Skills
From: Dick Margulis <margulis -at- fiam -dot- net>
To: Isaac Rabinovitch <isaacr -at- mailsnare -dot- net>
Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2004 12:04:42 -0500

Isaac Rabinovitch wrote:

Bill Swallow wrote:

Note: I've always brought samples (hard copy, CD) but I haven't needed them.
That is, writing skills were secondary to other skills (technology,
workflow, etc.) I brought to the table.

Could I persuade you to expand on this? Many of us are looking to make ourselves more employable by expanding our skill sets. What special skills do you have and how did you acquire them?


I'm not speaking for Bill, just jumping into an interesting thread on a slow day ...

Think back to junior high school. Close your eyes for a moment and visualize ninth grade English with Miss Grimble. I know you were in the front row, with your hand raised to answer a question about the difference between transitive and copulative verbs, while Bif Blutto and his buddies guffawed in the back of the room and their girlfriends turned red; but think about Bif for a moment. Maybe you never really got to know him because he hung out with a bunch of party types and you weren't invited to their parties. But it turns out he was a well liked fellow. He didn't make it into the Ivy League. He got a football scholarship to State, where his fraternity brothers helped him pass his courses. And now you're applying for a job and it turns out Bif is the CEO.

So from Bif's point of view, the fact that you write well just brings up the memory of his getting a D minus from Miss Grimble. Bif concludes--reasonably from his perspective--that writing is a lot less important than being popular and holding your liquor--qualities that will get you a sales job every time. So from Bif's point of view, the fact that you write well just brings up the memory of his getting a D minus from Miss Grimble; it gains you nothing.

Sure, you and I know it is what you do well and what you enjoy doing and what you need to do well to succeed at the job you want to get. But that and $3.25 might or might not get you a latte at Starbucks. What can you bring to the table that Bif cares about?

Your best bet is stuff that sounds complicated, is easy to learn, and doesn't remind Bif of a course he hated in junior high. Walk around the office, and when you see someone struggling to understand something that looks obvious enough to you, learn about that thing and volunteer to take on that responsibility. Bingo. You've increased your value to your current employer and have something to talk about with your next employer. Keep doing that, and pretty soon you'll have lots of arrows in your quiver.

Most of the stuff people do for a living really isn't that hard and doesn't take a long time to learn. It's not like you have to sign up for three years of courses before you can claim an additional a skill. Just jump in, learn the vocabulary, read the help file, pick up a Dummies book--whatever seems most appropriate--and apply your intelligence and liberal arts education to fill in the blanks. Sure, you'll make mistakes and look dumb at first. Everyone does. Grin sheepishly, apologize, learn, and move forward.

As for a specific list of skills, that depends entirely on who you are, what you are good at, and what you find in your immediate environment.


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