I used to be of the opinion that all my biggest talents fell slightly more on the ‘utterly useless’ side of the ‘potential for greatness’ scale. As a writer, it’s probably not of huge importance that I am particularly skilled at endurance hula hooping — yet here we are.
I was convinced I’d have to just completely overhaul what I was good at in order to fit the career I wanted, instead of finding a job that suited my unusual skills and passions. Even then, the work-applicable skills that I had didn’t help me decide on what I wanted to do until much later on.
I basically spent a whole lotta time in a permanent shrug position (it’s been rough on the shoulders, let me tell you) until I realised how I could make my skills work. Endurance hula hooping may not seem conducive to writing, but patience, practice and focus are.
Here’s how to figure out how your skills can make a big splash in the wild world of working (because I care about YOUR shoulders too).
don’t let this be you, pals
1. Take stock of what you got
The first thing you must do, my young Padawan, is figure out what the heck it is that you’re good at. This could be as simple as identifying your best skills (even if they seem utterly irrelevant, like the ability to perfectly cook a jaffle or balance a spoon on your nose) and extrapolating what you can do with them from there.
Perhaps once you take stock you’ll find that a lot of your key skills fall into a certain area — you might realise that you’re a total creative with a handy lil’ talent for storyboarding and management. Maybe you’re more analytical, techy and mathematically inclined than you thought. Who’s to say?!
And as for those seemingly ‘useless’ unusual skills, it’s important to get an idea of the traits and skills that underpin them. Say you’re particularly good at Tetris. As a result, you’re probably super good at making logical decisions on the fly, have great spatial reasoning and fast reflexes. Those are skills that are absolutely valued in the workplace.
me, every day of my existence
2. Do your homework
Once you’ve narrowed down the skills you have (and extrapolated the kind of person you are as a result, i.e. analytical, creative or otherwise), it’s time to do the legwork to see what kind of careers they’ll suit.
Bit stuck on what they might be? You can pop online and have a quick search but if you want something tailored (and don’t want to spend another year twiddling your thumbs) you can give the Match My Skills quiz from Queensland University of Technology a crack. Not only will it give you an idea of what’s out there in terms of your future, but also some insight into where you’re at now.
And ultimately, if you find that you’ve got your heart set on a career that maybe you don’t fit all the skillsets for, don’t be dissuaded. Sometimes you’ve got to work backwards to go forwards, and the old adage that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is, to be perfectly frank, absolute tripe.
you, strollin’ on in to your ideal career
3. Don’t stop now
Let’s say you’ve managed to nail down where you want to end up and matched your skills to the ideal career. First of all, go you! What a champion, we’re very proud of you. But you’ve still gotta put in the hard yards to make sure you nail the gig.
Obviously refining those skills is your first big step, but translating your weirder talents for the ‘real world’ is important too. Having taken stock, work out the areas that you can develop those base level unusual skills into. Remember that jaffle-making ability? It shows you’ve got good timing and awareness — develop that into a work-related skill.
While you do that, keep learning new skills that supplement the ones you’ve already got. Whether that means taking a course at uni or just making a buttload of jaffles (then send them my way, I’m hungry now), progress and development is key to making sure that when you score that prime gig, you keep it and make an impression.
maybe not as extreme as JD though
Really though, all you need to do is find a path that aligns with what you’re passionate about. It’s all we can ask for, and TBH it shouldn’t be that hard to figure out what you wanna do for the rest of your life. So make it easier for yourself and check in with QUT’s quiz, because anything that gets you there faster is a-okay by me.
Even if I’m yet to find a way to hula hoop at work.Image: iStock / AndreyPopov