|Posted on 28 March, 2019 at 11:10|
Can you remember all the things you have done in your professional career?
I ask because in recent weeks, it is a common thread which has woven its way through client conversations. In the busyness of day to day professional life, we can forget some of the great work we have done in the past, or it has got lost as it was a small part of a bigger project. It could also be that we do not recognise the relevance of what we have done in the hurry of actually doing it.
Every so often, it is worth sitting down with your CV, a blank piece of paper and a pen (or a computer if you prefer) and write down everything you did as part of a particular job / project. (This is relevant even if you are just starting out – look at any extra curricular projects you did at school / university which gave you new skills.) For example, a long time ago I had a post as an administrator with a charity and did all the usual administratory things you would expect. But along the way, under that great job description catchall of “and any other duties...”, I curated an exhibition of Shona sculpture at the Commonwealth Institute and managed large conferences.
Once you have gone through your CV, add in anything you have done on a voluntary basis. Because we do this type of work out of a personal commitment, we often forget to acknowledge what we might have learned. (For example, in my voluntary life, I have developed very good group management skills through chairing boards.)
Okay, we’ve done professional and voluntary lives, what about your life “outside” your professional practice everyday life? Think about all the skills and experience you have there.
- Have you planned a big birthday party for a friend? Event management.
- Have you arranged a holiday for yourself, your partner, your children? Multiple diary management. (Actually, parenthood is one of the best basic trainings for business skills you can get!)
- Do you play football? Team building skills.
- Have you sat down with your bank statement and worked out how much money you have for food, going out, rent, etc., for the next month? Budgetting.
Yes, okay, with some of these, you might need to develop the skills further, but you already have a good introduction.
What is the point of doing all this work?
If you want to move into another area of work and need to make an application for a job or project, seeing what you have already done can give you valuable evidence which you can add to your CV / covering letter / project brief, as well as giving you confidence that you have already had relevant experience.
If you aren’t sure which direction you want to move into, it can give you a great overview of options, things you might not have immediately considered. For example, my running conferences could be a great opening for a new career in event management.
Even if you think you don’t have particular experience, you can often find that skills you have are transferrable. For example, you may see a piece of work as successfully creating a piece of sculpture to be installed at a particular gallery on a particular date. In business skills terms, straight away we are looking at time management, logistics, client liaison, resource management, budgeting...
Another important element to all this is that it gives you a chance to sit back and acknowledge exactly what you can do and have achieved to date. You would be surprised how many of us forget just how versatile and great we are on a day to day basis!
Block yourself out half an hour, get a cup of your favourite beverage and do your own skills audit. At the end, read it through then say, “Yeah, that’s me and I’m great!” Then look how you can use all these newly recognised skills to move your practice forward.