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Career Design: Searching For A Combination Of Skills That Make You Irreplaceable

For Every Job Replaced, A New One Will Be Created

I’m an optimist. Instead of expecting not to have a job in the future because automation, I expect that there will be more new jobs than ever before. With this emergence of new jobs however, I am worried about making sure that I am consistently learning new skills that can be transferable. Instead of searching for that dream job, I am more concerned with growing a large combination of skills.

 

In 2007, author and cartoonist Scott Adams published a career advice article on skills acquisition. In this article, he explains that we should not be aiming to be in the top 1% of one specific skill. Instead, we should be focusing on being in the top 25% in a combination of skills. Using this tactic will make us more successful in the long run. He gives an example of how this approach helped him in his own career, creating one of the most popular cartoon comic strips in the world, Dilbert. Thirteen years later and his advice still rings true.

 

Becoming So Useful That You Seem Irreplaceable

Job security may be a remnant of the past but, there should still be methods that we can use to ensure we at least seem as irreplaceable as possible, in the eyes of the people we work with. The last thing anyone ever wants to be is a replaceable cog in the system, waiting to be usurped by cheaper labor. This applies to any professional working in any industry. So how do we showcase our usefulness, how do we show our clients, teammates, and bosses that we are irreplaceable?

 

We can show others that we are irreplaceable by bringing a unique set of skills to the table. What represents a person more than their job title is the set of demonstrable skills that they have. Even though this idea may seem obvious, skills aren’t necessarily discussed in the typical college setting. Students who have not yet entered the workforce don’t seem to notice that their studies don’t lead to the acquisition of applicable skills.

 

Understanding theories and concepts are always vital to the learning process yet, to really be ready to work in an industry requires the acquisition of skills. Having studied marketing case studies doesn’t necessarily mean that you know how to create a marketing campaign from scratch. Taking four years to learn photography and doesn’t necessarily prepare you for dealing with a picky client. This goes to show that we have to take a different approach to growing as young professionals.

 

Key Skills Everyone Should Know, Regardless Of What Industry They’re In

There must certainly be universal skills that transfer over to multiple industries and positions. Take for example, the ability to communicate effectively in both one’s writing and in public speaking. No matter the job, there will come a time each day that you will have to either speak or write to communicate with your team and clients. The better you are at asking and answering questions, delegating tasks clearly, and communicating your ideas will increase the chances of you advancing in your career.

 

Another transferable skill that you may want to cultivate is the ability to give and receive feedback. This skill is essential because without feedback, you nor your team can improve. Being able to give feedback may be more critical a skill to learn, as people are emotional and the ability to help others without appearing mean will considerably affect your career. Additionally, not being sensitive whenever you’re told to redo an assignment will show that you are a good listener. And it will show that you care more about the task at hand, rather than your own ego.

 

I am certain that the ability to learn quickly will also be useful to any team you are in. If you can learn new skills and concepts quickly, you help your team save money on training costs. Having the initiative to educate yourself on topics that relate to your industry also indicates an ability to potentially teach others. Also, if you can create a system of self-education, you standout amongst other professionals who become complacent and comfortable in their positions.

 

Lastly, time management is an essential skill that you must get and cultivate at any stage of your career. Without good time management skills, you will become unreliable. People won’t be able to trust you when you say that you will submit an assignment by a certain time. If you have good time management skills, at a certain point you’ll be able to manage and delegate tasks to other people. The more you cultivate this skill, the faster the teams that you manage will grow.

 

I am certain that there are many other skills that are equally as important to the four mentioned above. Above all else, what will make you an attractive candidate in any future job application will be your ability to clearly showcase your list of skills. There will always be jobs that require certifications and a minimum educational requirement but, what will become more important over time is demonstrating what skills you have that others don’t.

 

If you can start considering what unique set of skills you have right now, which skills you’d like to add, and how you want to demonstrate them, you will be well on your way to becoming incredibly useful to others. The more useful you become, the more irreplaceable you will seem.

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