In any career path—whether you work in a Fortune 500 company or own your own business, diversifying your skills is critical to your continued growth and success. Although the catalyst to diversifying recently for me has been creating additional income, the benefits of expanding your skillset reach beyond the monetary ones.
Here are three ways broadening your reach can help you. You can:
- Learn something you need to know—even if it’s not part of your “job.” When I was a leader in the corporate world, it was expected that those in management delegate tasks that others could do. That strategy was effective from a productivity standpoint, but not advantageous for me from a career progression standpoint. Some skills you just need to know, regardless of whether or not they are your job.
Social media familiarity was this elusive skill for me while I served in large organizations as a creative director, managing editor and marketing director. We used college students to execute social media efforts. If I had to do it over again, I would have had the students that I supervised to show me, and done more on my own time—sooner. While I was the creative mind behind social campaigns—I didn’t’ know how much about the nuts and bolts of it—and I still have much to learn.
But in the last year, I have specifically sought out projects centered around social media. I have a long way to go to implement what I have executed for others, but I am getting there.
The moral of the story? If you see skills that seem critically important in the marketplace…learn them…a little at a time…or you may find yourself having to run a marathon to catch up later.
- Figure out how to do something that you are interested in. Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved to put words and pictures together. In my career progression working for others, I had to choose between strategy and design execution to keep moving upward, even though I was trained about design principles in my master’s degree. So, I gave up my design desires for upward mobility. I supervised graphic designers instead of operating the software myself. Now however, I’m refreshing those skills.
- Apply your knowledge across disciplines to better communicate your message and to better serve clients. In the world of traditional publishing and editing, marketing and editorial are thought of as two separate disciplines. Knowing both really helps the other, however. My marketing background helps me understand various audiences well to be a better content editor—it doesn’t matter how well-crafted your sentences are if the words are directed to the wrong audience at the wrong time. My design background also makes me a better editor (I’m very open to cutting because of design challenges when many writers aren’t). Knowing design and printing also makes me a better book cover evaluator. Many authors I work with have gotten into binds that they didn’t know about printing challenges. I’ve since always asked to be involved in the design process, and they appreciate that.
- Know how people do things you pay for helps you evaluate their work, and it also helps them grow in their own skillset. Because of my broad background, I have helped many designers understand readability and marketing to certain types of audiences. I’ve supervised designers whose work looked like it was well suited for only one industry diversify their own skills. I’ve had writers expand their views on what is possible to include in a book or leave out. I’ve helped speakers turn their messages into books.
- Understand your sweet spot—and your shortcomings. As you diversify your skills, you learn what you love, and you learn what is still better to delegate. Even if you now know how to do something, it may not still be best for you to do it.
As you can see, the effort of diversifying is worthwhile—and it is an ongoing journey as we continue in the effort of lifelong learning. Happy learning!
If I can help you with writing, content evaluation, content editing or copyediting, please don’t hesitate to contact me!