I know this post will resonate with at least one of you. You know who you are. Right now, as you read this, you are battling with a tinge of self-doubt. You’re wondering if your life is on the right path either professionally, personally, or both.
I recently received a text from a friend of mine who is trying to decide if she wants to find a new job. Her message read something like this:
“Looking at jobs in (her field of choice). There is nothing that I’m remotely interested in or that I feel completely qualified for.”
My friend has worked in the same field for over a decade now and has fallen into the mental trap that latches on to so many of us.
It’s the trap that makes you believe you need a certain number of years of experience in the same generic career path to be deemed valuable: X years of experience = Y in terms of value (And that, my friends, is the closest I’ll ever get to using math in my blog.)
I challenged her to remember how she felt straight out of college when she knew with 100 percent certainty that she had something to bring to the table without having years of experience under her belt. How exciting it was to learn a new skill set, to understand the complexities of meshing into a new team, and to confidently feel like she added value.
If you were to ask me what I personally bring to the table, my younger self would have listed strengths in terms of learned skills/expertise:
- Journalism, reporting, writing, editing
- Designing, branding, marketing
- Captaining a team
Ask me the same question today, and I naturally answer in terms of innate behavioral strengths:
- Storytelling, creativity
- Brainstorming, influencing, humoring
Being the new kid on the block is always scary no matter what stage you are in in your professional career. However – if you’re like me and you prefer a little variety in life (e.g., you’re not afraid to be viewed as the pupil learning new things, you honestly enjoy meeting new people, and you like expanding your knowledge base) – then don’t limit yourself to only those jobs that match-up on paper with your educational background.
I told my friend that when I changed jobs, I considered these qualities to be my top strengths:
- Leadership (ironically enough, I never thought I’d enjoy managing people until I was given the chance to guide and learn from an awesome team)
- Ability to empathize
- Willingness to outreach
- Nun chuck skillz (in honor of Napoleon Dynamite and because I wanted to make her laugh)
Don’t sell yourself short. You may not have the exact skill set that a potential employer is looking for, but I’ve learned that people who are like my friend are often few and far between. If you are a team player who values others over yourself and is always willing to lend a helping hand, there are companies out there who desperately want you.
Written by Heidi Woodard