Skill profiles are the new calling card. They are how we introduce ourselves to people and show what we can do. Building a great skill profile is part of the day-to-day work of all knowledge workers.

So how do you go about building your profile?

Here is what my own profile looks like today. I am working to deepen it in the areas that are most important to my team and my career goals.

 

One way to build a profile is to look inside yourself and think about the roles you have played, the projects you have contributed to and the highlights of your own career. This is how most of us start, but there is another, more social way.

Look at the people you work with and their key skills. Ask yourself,

  • How do I leverage this person’s skills in my own work?
  • How can I help them further develop their skills?
  • Which of my own skills should I be developing to become a better teammate?

According to TeamFit, the people I work with the most are Karen Chiang and Lee Iverson. Looking at their Skill Maps, what can I learn about my own?

 

Karen wrote about her skill profile here. Reading this gave me a lot of insight into how she works. Karen and I work together on business and investments. We rely on each other to challenge each other’s judgements. We share skills in business such as “Entrepreneurship” and “Business Strategy.” We are also working together to improve our “Challenger Sales” skill.

Lee has a pretty good mix of technical and business skills. He could introspect more on his foundational skills, the skills he uses to develop other skills. This is something I could coach him on. He is also rather thin on social skills. Hmm. Lee and I share a passion for social software and collaborative work. We use our skills in these areas

You can also look at the skills that your close collaborators are working on to develop and see how you can contribute. One of the improvements in the new version of TeamFit is that you can indicate which are your Core skills, which are your Target skills (the skills you want to develop) and which skills are downgraded (you have the skill but do not want to apply it going forward).

We all have these three types of skills. Karen and I are targeting “Challenger Sale” as a skill that we want to develop, “Market Segmentation” is one of my core skills and one of Karen’s target skills, while “Japanese Translation” is a skill that I have at a high level but have downgraded as I am not pursuing work that uses that skill.

 

Knowing Karen has “Market Segmentation” as a target skill that she wants to develop and that it is one of my core skills, where in fact I am a Guru, suggests that I coach her on this. It is worth checking your colleagues target skills to see if there are places you can coach them or skills that you should also have as target skills.

Skill Profiles are going to be a hot topic. They have already come up in Harvard Business Review, see the September 2016 article by Michelle Weise We Need a Better Way to Visualize People’s Skills. This is an important article and I hope you will click though and read it. She presents several possible skill profiles in her article and says…

 

“Using a grid like this, employers and managers could access a candidate or employee’s profile and either get a more granular, complete view, or could zero in on the most important skillsets and competencies to them. The grid could toggle accordingly to show the depth and arrangement of the person’s experience and growth over time. Employers could be able to scan quickly and see the strengthening and deepening of a person’s abilities.

Ideally, this would also be a social network and e-portfolio, allowing an employer to see samples of work and trust that the skills presented had been validated by others (The social component of GitHub is important to underscore because other developers validate and consume another developer’s work. This contrasts starkly with the “skills”—if we can call them that—that users can tag so quickly on LinkedIn, such as “higher education” or even “ninja”).

A tool like this could have an impact far beyond hiring better candidates or getting a clearer picture of an employee’s skills. It could even lay the groundwork for a marketplace that didn’t have to depend so heavily on college degrees as proxies for talent. After all, most employers use the degree as a screen or general sorting mechanism that may not relate to the jobs’ duties. That imprecision has led to the demand for higher and more degrees for jobs that don’t really require a degree in the first place.

Better people analytics – and better ways of visualizing and interacting with that data – will not only help managers and recruiters do a better job of matching people with jobs but will also help each of us develop a more accurate picture of our strengths and weaknesses. We’ll be able to send clearer signals to the market about all that we can do.”

 

This basically describes what we are doing with TeamFit. Giving people a granular way to demonstrate and validate their skills, supporting them with a social network built around projects and skills, and using this to provide critical business insights at the individual, team and organizational levels.

As we develop our own skills and profiles, we should look at other people’s profiles for what we can learn from them and with them.