Charting your course: leveraging skills for career growth*
In the ever more frenetic waters of the technology world, building a career is not only about the technical skills you acquire but also having the savvy to navigate its cultural tides.
Skills building, particularly for mid-career women, is about more than just picking up the latest tech tricks; it is about embedding oneself into the fabric of technological evolution. As we build our capabilities in creating and leveraging technology, we are also learning to work well with others in new ways and be leaders in tomorrow’s tech world.
We can draw on our formal training and the value of our lived experience. While technologies change, some fundamentals don’t: good communication, building relationships, creative problem-solving, and staying calm under pressure. Whether from career or life experience, women often have wealth capabilities in these skills.
So, what can we do to help plot our course in skills and career growth?
- Create a skills inventory for yourself: Skills are not all about certificates. Look across your work and life at all the different capabilities you are applying daily. Make a list and look at how you use these toward outcomes. You can find skills audit or inventory tools available online, and some organizations are now offering this service.
- Look at where you deliver your best work: Where do you get the most momentum, and what makes you most satisfied? See how you can build on this in your role or use it to transition roles.
- Focus on outputs: Getting lost in the day-to-day delivery can be easy. But career growth is often about being good at more than execution. Keep an eye on your work’s impact and leverage this in presenting your value – both for the organization’s goals and your own. Try envisioning where you want to go and how each work commitment you undertake may be helping you get there.
- Bet on micro-certifications: Formal training programs are great, but the time and focus to participate can be hard to find when balancing multiple priorities. Break learning down into small chunks or skills. And look at the range of soft skills and on-the-job learning you enhance daily. Several national and regional institutions across the EU are launching programs for acknowledging these through micro-certifications and digital skills wallets to make accreditations more easily recognized.
- Invest in personalized and continuous training: With more online and self-paced options available now, you can access learning in different ways and through different channels, which can be easier to fit into daily life than participating in a class.
- Embrace mentoring: While the benefits of mentoring for women entering careers are well recognized, it can also be hugely beneficial for the women taking the mentor role. It is a chance to step back and assess where you are, but also to put a value on the journey you have completed and the skills you have built-in getting there.
And, of course, networks like Portuguese Women in Tech are an essential way to reach out and build the professional and personal connections that can help you on your path.
Seeking new ways to apply our knowledge and enrich the intersection of different fields of knowledge and practice enriches the technological sector and lays the foundations for a more integrated and inclusive ecosystem – where men and women can participate and thrive. And learning new skills or leveraging those we already possess in innovative ways impacts our individual growth, drives our career, and helps create a more vibrant and accessible technological future for all.
This is because, if we think about it, our personal and professional development is fundamental in building a legacy that benefits the entire society around us.
*This article was originally published in Observador.