What if you realized you’ve been working in sales, but should have been a chef, or working in management but should have been a teacher… or in design and construction but should have been in healthcare?  What if all that time spent in a boardroom should have been spent running a cafe on an island? What if?

When we think about our transferrable skills, soft skills should be right there at the top of the list to consider.  But an executive who reviewed my resume recently took it a few steps further, and I’m so glad they did!   For starters, it got eyes on my resume at a high level in an industry I’m seeking to expand into.  The feedback was pragmatic and pivotal for anyone looking to cross industry borders and expand into new teams and projects.

The advice?  1) Determine and narrow down your top 5 strengths and build on those, as your strengths are your power skills and will apply in any industry.  2) Purchase the book StrengthFinders and it will guide you to your top 5 strengths. Not what you think they are, but what they really are.  This person went on to state they, and their entire team (a large, highly successful global organization), had utilized the StrengthsFinders book, and continue to do so along their careers.  The book will help you gain a laser sharp focus, rather than casting a wide net on your top power skills.
This is straightforwarded and impactful advice.  Think about it…  how much of our training and education is spent focused on trying to get better at our weaknesses?  How many performance reviews have we given and received that focus on what to improve, when in reality, we should be focused on all of our strengths.  How many times have we left teams or organizations due to what was misalignment of strengths? How many teams try to force a “round peg into a square hole” for quick results to their bottom line ( the short game)?  When top power skills are applied, it’s a long game with better results all around.

There are several: Communication; Problem Solving; Objective Thinking; Intellectual Curiosity; Business Sense; Business Acumen; Storytelling; Adaptability; Team Player, and probably a few more.

So back to last week’s topic and the follow on of soft skills associated with Data Analysis experience most of us have.

These skills are also developed in many other roles such as selling, managing, researching, teaching, business ownership, leading, etc.  But many of these same “soft, or power skills” are also strengths, and they’re not developed equally among individuals.  They can also be weaknesses.  Ever have someone ask you to show them how you do what you do, and train other team members to be you?   I have and it rarely produces good results.  Yes, we can teach and study power skills, but if a soft skill doesn’t come naturally, or we don’t enjoy using that skill, it becomes a weakness and can make our work a long difficult road. 

How many people are asked to present, but are not comfortable with public communication?  How many people are introverts and do not want to interact with an agile, fast moving team?  How many people take roles based on their education, but drag through their days due to misalignment of power skills?  How many people never even take the chance or risk, to align and bring balance?

So, like me, if you’re looking at expanding your career beyond industry borders, identify your stengths, evaluate where you’ve used them in your career, and focus on roles / businesses that need those top skills.  As for me, well, I am going through the process of narrowing down 5 power skills and aligning those tranferrable soft skills with my next steps… because Yes, we can thrive and enjoy what we do everyday!  Whatever we choose to do.

The most impactful teams I know of, the most successful organizations and careers on every level, focus on strengths, align strengths to roles.  We all have weaknesses, but working with our strengths is the sweet spot.  How much better could our careers, our work, be, if we focused on our true strengths?  Next week I’ll share my 5 strengths results and where I’m applying them, Because, what if the career journey expanded across industry borders with alignment of our power skills?  How much better would that be on both sides?