Thursday, August 20, 2009

Career Skills

My work is mainly around analytics - making sense of data and numbers and presenting it to folks who can then use that information. Since I work in Digital Marketing, one of the blogs I follow is Avinash Kaushik's Occam's Razor. This is a great post that I just read and it encapsulates a lot of my personal beliefs about work and building your career. It is a long post and devoted to web analytics, so in case you're not a web data junkie, I'm distilling here the 3 general principles that I think have been helpful to my career so far.

Here, in a nutshell, are my core beliefs about building a career and interviewing for positions - a vital part of building a successful career.
1. Think broad - Its great to be a specialist but its more important to ground your specialty into the bigger context. What does your skill and knowledge mean for your colleagues, for the company and for the industry? How is what you do relevant? Asking those questions and making sure you have an answer is a good way to know you're relevant and adding value. It makes a great pitch to be able to tell a potential employer exactly how your job and work tied in to the company's business.

2. Be interested - My personal curiosity just forces me to do this a lot - its come in handy when I talk to other people since I always have a good idea of what is happening around me. I borrow ideas for my work, retro fitting projects or ideas that I hear in "What do you do conversation?" to my world. Hearing people talk about their work also gives me ideas on what I want to do next. That way, I can plan a path to the job that interests me - I ask about experiences, skills, education needed for a job that interests me and plan to acquire that set of knowledge. It keeps me ahead of the game so I am not forced to do the next crappy job that opens up. It's also a great way to meet people and build networks.

3. Take Charge - One advice repeated by various mentors to me is "Act like you're in the job you want. If you want to be GM, start to think, act and be like the GM." Ask what she would do in a given situation and do the same. Avinash, in his post talks about getting around company and policy limitations. In the online analytics world, he talks about getting your own blog, your own analytics account and playing around with it. Creating and managing a blog will provide expertise in every area - strategy, creative, content, marketing and so on. You want to be a project manager - why not volunteer to manage the next fundraiser at your kid's school? Nothing better than jumping in and getting your hands dirty. There is a confidence that you'll get from having done the job that no amount of reading can provide you.

So, in summary, look around, ask questions and then take charge. It will add to your basket of skills and that shows when you walk into an interview. I have lots more to share on successful interviewing - but more on that topic later.

1 comment:

  1. You gave me the advice too - "Taking Charge", actually it is helping me a lot; when I want to give inputs to areas outside my scope (defined by the role) Thanks Nikki!