When it comes to your career are you a buyer or a renter? Over a lifetime—both in and out of the workforce—it’s important to buy-in to a professional portfolio that builds on your core skills and experience.
This doesn’t mean that you pursue a relentless, hard-driving career or “lean in” to every high-powered opportunity. You can pursue a series of unrelated jobs and forego a predictable climb up a career ladder. You can move in and out of industries or switch from corporate to entrepreneurial hats. You can off-ramp, on ramp and spend years as a volunteer. Your portfolio of key skills can evolve and grow—thankfully you’re not stuck with the grunt work skills you acquired at age 23. But your ability to nimbly find opportunities as industries wax and wane, shape work that fits your life and achieve long-term financial security depends largely on core skills that propel you from Resume Point A to B, C, D and E.
When you rent a career and engage in a series of jobs without any particular commitment to your strongest portfolio of skills, it’s hard for employers or customers to understand the professional you are and the comprehensive package you offer. And when your resume shows a potpourri of seemingly superficial skills…well, as the saying goes, employers too often assume you’re a jack of all trades and master of none.
Buying into—and always highlighting—a core portfolio of skills allows you to:
- Build equity in a career that has long-term professional heft
- Gradually pay off career liabilities—the skills that clutter your resume and unwittingly hold you back
- Increase skill and experience assets and boost your career net worth.
Decide what you like to do—and what you actually do best—and make sure that you find ways to develop your portfolio of skills within any job description, in any industry and during any professional or volunteer role. There’s always a way to raise your hand for major or minor projects that involve writing, financial analysis, marketing—or whatever your strengths may be. Employers favor specialists rather than generalists, and they like to see within the fabric of your career a lot of common threads. —KAS
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