In the latest episode of “Getting off the Hamster Wheel” our guest Julia Wuench shared that as part of her self-reflection to find a career that would fulfill her, she talked to people in her network about her skills, her strengths, and how she brought value to a team or an organization. She was so surprised to hear that what came very naturally to her as a manager was actually a very unique, and valuable, skill. I think many of us have felt similarly at times and had no idea that it wasn’t just what everyone else did in their roles, or that it could be a valuable skill.
In the mini-episode that followed, I shared some tips on how to identify some of these unique skills. Since everyone has different ways of learning and getting new ideas, I wanted to capture them in a blog post as well! Think through the following to consider what unique skills you have that you could apply to your next career.
What themes have come through performance reviews or any feedback you have received? Maybe people turn to you for advice or to listen when they are working through an issue? Maybe people appreciate your ability to think through a problem, dissect it piece by piece and see a solution others don’t? Maybe you are able to breakdown information and communicate it in a way that people can understand easier? It could be a million things, but what are some themes you have heard from people. Personally, one piece of feedback that I didn’t realize was a unique skill (or something that came easily to me and not to others) was how I delivered training. When I am leading a training, you see my personality come through. I was excited, a little goofy, knowledgeable but vulnerable. I tell stories and my direct experiences. People have shared that that makes the content more relatable, not dry and boring as company trainings can be. They also said it helps them feel safer to ask questions and participate in the conversation. I was just being me!
How could those skills be used in a career? If you are a trusted advisor for people, could that lead to a career in coaching, therapy, counseling or even a client services role? If you are able to problem-solve, could that be a product manager, or a client-facing technical role that has to work through bugs the clients find. If you are able to breakdown information for people to understand is that a tutor or a teacher, or maybe a project manager that helps find operational efficiencies. Start looking for roles (even just searching keywords) that fit this feedback to help you start seeing some possible matches. As I heard the feedback more and more about how I facilitated a training session, it ignited the idea that I could start speaking at events and sharing more stories more broadly, even writing down some of my advice, something I would never have considered before.
How can you test if these unique skills could lead to a new career? Reach out to people in your network, get their reactions, and even ask if you could help them with something as a test run. Maybe you are thinking your project management skills could be used as a wedding planner. Who in your social circle is getting married, can you offer to be their wedding planner to try it out? Maybe you think that your problem-solving skills could be helpful for a manufacturing company having issues with supply chain breaks. Maybe there is a non-profit (like a food bank) that is looking for some additional volunteer help managing their physical donations. Or maybe your teaching skills could help parents who are trying to help their kids with homeschooling right now and need someone to help them learn virtually. As I thought about building credibility as a speaker, I reached out to anyone I knew with a podcast, who hosted webinars, had local panels, to see if they would give me a chance to share some content. I offered to do an intro call with them so they could get a sense of what it would be like to have a discussion with me on the topic or walk through a course I taught before. Then I expanded it to people I didn’t know. I figured, if I don’t ask, it will definitely be a no. I am still surprised at some of the yes’s I get!
But before you get ahead of yourself, the first step is to gather the feedback. Go back through old performance reviews or reach out to colleagues and managers (current or former) and ask what about your skills or abilities stands out to them. And then go from there! Below is a picture of me using my unique skill set on a panel at HR Transform in Vegas last year. A global summit with thousands of participants in a city I had never been!
I hope these additional tips helped. Feel free to reach out to me directly if you are looking for more advice or questions you have about how to identify and leverage your unique skills. Additionally, I just launched a course on Teachable about how to get off your hamster wheel and find a path to a new career. It has the feel of a coaching session with exercises and actionable tips on how to make a career change. Use the code Hamster” when you register and you will receive a 20% discount (bringing the course down to just $40). It has a lot of actionable tips like the ones above to help you get unstuck and find your path to a career that will bring you joy, fulfillment and success!