Experience is a masterful teacher. Where do we gain our skills and knowledge?
Job experience is important; no one becomes a leader overnight and the skills we develop are crucial in advancing in a career. However, there’s far more to experience than simply the years on your resume or the specific areas you have worked in. Work experience is gained both inside and outside the office.
Underestimating our experience is a trap we can fall into. Research shows, women in particular are less likely to self-promote or self-advocate, and are more likely to suffer from a confidence gap than our male counterparts. It can be especially daunting when we find job ads with strings of requirements and constantly see people talking up their expertise on social media platforms.
That’s why it’s worth taking a step back and looking at the whole range of experience you do have, and from there, building confidence that it will carry through to your leadership.
Move to soft skills
If you’ve been for or conducted a job interview lately, you’ve probably encountered behavioural based questions, such as “tell me about a time you had to…”. These types of questions are designed to highlight the depth of your experience and draw out how you’ve applied ‘soft skills’ in previous situations.
Employers aim to discover your level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). Thankfully, over the last few years, EQ – which includes things like self-awareness, self-regulation and empathy – has become recognised as essential in a workplace that is constantly changing. In fact, it’s predicted that soft skills will be even more in demand post-pandemic as we adapt.
Soft skills are an essential component in a healthy team and the basis for great leadership. Developing them is a primary focus of our leadership training courses. Alongside other transferrable skills, they can be carried across to any role, making them as or even more important, than the job-specific skills you have gained.
Where we gain experience outside work
Soft skills are often developed outside the office environment. Think of the many roles in our lives that help us gain experience and develop leadership skills outside the office. These include:
- Parental or caring responsibilities
There’s nothing like caring for someone else to provide you with experience in patience, ingenuity, juggling tasks and relating to others. Just to name a few!
There was a time when parental or carer’s leave was considered a ‘gap’ on your CV, however the tide is turning and now people are starting to include the skills and experience they’ve gained.
- Dealing with tough times
Unfortunately, many have been left unemployed by the pandemic. Those who have been impacted may understandably be worried that this will be a negative period of their experience in the future – and may try to act like it never happened. However, the resilience from dealing with an experience such as this is an excellent skill for any job. And, there may be opportunities to upskill or make a change.
Even for those who have been fortunate enough to keep their jobs, there’s been a lot of change in the way we operate. Many of us have likely gained new skills and experience from the pandemic, like flexibility and using new technologies.
- Volunteering or participating in community activities
Volunteering and participation in community teaches us compassion and empathy, teamwork and a lot more.
Community activities don’t have to be visibly organising events, but just working behind the scenes to help others; checking in on neighbours, doing grocery runs for those who are at risk and standing up for others.
What have you gained your most valuable experience? Let me know in the comments.
For more information or to register for our free upcoming Wholistic Leadership webinar, shoot us an email firstname.lastname@example.org