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A mini-rant about skills

Woman in black jumper holding a mug saying 'Like a boss'

'I don't have ANY skills', you sometimes say. 

What you mean is. I don't have any - what others would call - HARD skills. 

Or, to be even more precise, you don't have any diplomas, certificates, Masters or PhDs to show to potential employers who are UN-enlightened enough to think that those pieces of paper mean more than - you know - having the experience, doing the work, getting the results. 

(And yes, this WILL become a mini-rant. I'll give you the warning now). 

I don't have any skills. 

If people tell me this one more time ...

Now, leading up to this article (read: mini-rant) I was frantically looking for a slide I've seen, years ago. One that claimed that leadership skills (see the word: skills?) were 87% made up of what we so easily dismiss as 'soft skills'. 

Relationship building. Creating trust. Being authentic. Communicating concisely, authentically, honestly, openly, transparently. Team building. Empathy. Coaching. 

Eighty-seven percent, people! 

Honestly, I wish I could find the slide again. But you're going to have to take my word for it. 

But what are YOUR skills? 

Have you ever DONE a skills audit? Listed ALL the skills you've gained throughout your life (no, not just your career)? 

I'll give you a little bit of time. 



Now look at that list again. Have you only listed those that have that piece of paper attached to it? The skills you gained in University? The ones for which you have gained a diploma, certificate or degree? Ideally with a high-status name attached to it? 

Now go back and add those so-called 'soft' skills (or - as I like to call them - leadership skills). And the skills you learned outside of work too, whilst you're at it. 

Which of these skills have contributed MOST to your success? 

Yes, thought so. 

And now one more thing: which of these skills come NATURALLY to you? Which ones do you LOVE using? 

And which ones do you need to gain to get the role you want? (Oh, don't know, because you're not clear WHAT you want? Maybe we should talk?)

So, what triggered all this? 

I was reading an article. About how more and more companies are drawing up a skills matrix. How more and more companies do an inventory of the skills of their workforce, mapped against the job roles in their companies. 

The aim of this - of course - is to see where there are skills gaps. But also to develop career paths and to be able to retain staff better due to seeing the whole person and being able to map them to jobs that may not have been obvious from their current job title. 

What does this mean for you? 

I don't know if your company does this (yet). But more and more companies do. 

And there's opportunity in that. 

Because if you don't like WHAT you're doing but like WHERE you're doing it, then there's opportunity in you positioning yourself in a way that makes it obvious that you're the right candidate. 

If you KNOW your skills are focused on team working, leadership, communications, relationship building, make sure they're on YOUR company's skills matrix. Ask if you can SEE the skills matrix (including those of jobs you find interesting).

If you KNOW what your skills are and - most importantly - what you LOVE doing, you're able to pinpoint, more and more, which roles suit you, which roles you would ENJOY. 

So, to finish my mini-rant on soft skills. 

Soft skills are skills. 

That sounds so obvious to me that I shouldn't have to say it. But I will. I will even repeat it. 

Soft skills are skills. 

Highly sought after skills at that. 

Skills that bring results. 

Skills that are highly regarded. 

Skills that - yes - DO turn up in job descriptions, if you look closely. 

Soft skills? I call them leadership skills. 

If only I had my slide to prove it to you ...


Tineke Tammes supports professional women in making successful transitions to careers of Freedom, Flexibility and Fulfilment! Besides that she is also a lifelong feminist, part-time portrait artistnever-only-read-one-book-at-any-time reader, and obsessive doodler.

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