Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What Are Your Skills?

Since every site is doing something new, I suppose LinkedIn figured they needed to ask its users a new question: What are your skills?

What are my skills anyway?

At first, I thought this question was pretty simple--and it is--but the answer is kind of complicated, especially if I want to think about how I stand out from other people. Unlike Napoleon Dynamite (pictured above), I can't just start listing off super sweet skills like numchuck skills, bowstaff skills, etc. No, I needed something a little more real but still unique.

Here's what I've come up with so far, but I'm definitely trying to improve:
  • Problem Solving
  • Content Creation and Management
  • Eternal Optimism
The real problem is that I'm not sure how best to define what I do. I do solve problems, and I create (as a writer) and manage (as an editor) content. To be an editor or writer for too long, you need to be an eternal optimist--or I suppose a nihilist or masochist (the latter sometimes equates to being an eternal optimist, I guess). But for some reason, these skills make me feel less than fulfilled.

I could add speaking, because I do speak quite frequently. However, I'm not sure adding skills would fix the problem. Maybe it's just the way the skills are presented. On LinkedIn, it's just kind of a few phrases lumped together. Would it work better as a tagline? Something like...

Robert Lee Brewer: Eternally optimistic problem solver who creates and manages content

Hmm... I'm not sure.

That said, I have found the experience of trying to define my skills useful. I truly believe that writers (and most professionals for that matter) should be looking for ways to brand and differentiate themselves from their competitors. Defining your skill set is one way to better understand yourself and what makes you unique.

While I try adding to my list of skills, feel free to share your own skills in the comments.


Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


Check out my blogging (or content creation and management) skills in these fine posts:


Darlene Steelman McGarrity said...

Hmm.. well, since you put it that way.. I have loads of skills!
Some of these include:

seriously, this is actually a very good question. When I sit down and think about my skills..
writing, critical thinking, problem solving and picking winning football teams (13-3 this week!) come to mind.
I really enjoyed this post. :)


Robert Lee Brewer said...

Picking winning football teams can be very useful, especially this time of year.

JeannetteLS said...

I am eternally optimistic procrastinator... no. Wait. Professional whiner.

My dad bought me the very first edition of What Color Is Your Parachute. Since then, every five years or so I get a new edition and I do the whole section about defining my skills. I am overdue. And I go to the website which used to be incredibly useful.

I think most of us tend to oversell or, more often, completely under-sell ourselves. If we have had a rough spell, in particular, I think we tend to think we are useless.

I write profiles well. That was my best trick. Perhaps writers should take a long, hard look at the sort of writing at which they shine--not fiction or nonfiction, but do they get the feel of speech rhythms well. Do they have a succinct yet subtle flair for establishing setting?

I worked for Stanford School of engineering as a freelance writer because I am a closet science nerd, and because I was able to get scientists to spill their guts and tell me things like that they, oh, had a full-sized pipe organ in their living room, or moonlighted as a bass player in a jazz band. I captured their speech well without taping what they said.

Without Parachute, though, I would have had real trouble finding the courage to tell such a place I was good at a thing. I wouldn't have been able to articulate what it was I felt set me apart as a marketing writer.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Identifying that you're a closet science nerd is exactly the kind of skills to be looking for--and that can help differentiate you from other non-closet-science-nerd writers out there.

Anonymous said...

I consider myself a creative and witty writer, a conscientious communicator, an innovative teacher, an energized problem solver, a dedicated mentor, an efficient organizer, a patient and persistent project manager, a steady and consistent finisher of . . . everything I start. Others might, and have, called me verbose, loquatious, pedantic, opinionated, bossy, anal, stubborn, rigid . . . etc.

It's all in the point of view