So you eat healthy (most of the time), you go to the gym, you give 100% at work, you volunteer on the weekends, and you also make sure to enjoy yourself with friends. You, by all accounts, are considered well-rounded.
Kudos to you! Now, let’s apply that to your professional life. Even though you’re great at your current job duties, being well-rounded professionally—which means gaining experience beyond just one functional area—is an important element to your long-term success.
Why? Because being well-rounded means you can step outside of your current role and take on new things—and that’s how you get the exciting new assignments and projects, which often don’t actually “fit” into anyone’s job description. What’s more, as you climb the ladder and are up for management positions, you’ll need skills in a variety of different areas to help you succeed. If you’re currently a social media manager but eventually want to head up a marketing department, for example, you’ll need to pick up expertise in brand development, advertising, and finance, too.
That said, there’s a difference between collecting random skills and gaining new experiences that will make you strategically well-rounded. So, here are a few questions to ask yourself to identify the skills that will be most important for your future—so you can go out and build them.
What Gaps in Knowledge Do I Have?
First, pull out your resume and take inventory of yourself. What are some valuable qualities or skills you already possess—and what do you wish you had? You’ll often identify strategic skills just by paying attention to your gaps or areas of weakness and identifying ways to strengthen them.
If you know you struggle with delegation or want to hone your leadership traits, for example, perhaps you could take on an intern or mentor junior employees. Or, if your emails tend to be long-winded or you wish you were a better communicator, taking a writing class would be a great way to grow.
What Skills Do Those Around Me Have?
Next, look around, and start noticing what other “well-rounded” colleagues or clients are doing. Particularly consider people in the positions you want to move into or attain: What do they do well, what could they do better, and what skill sets do their positions require? If everyone in the level above you has to manage budgets, for example, look for ways to plan budgets on smaller projects or events. If most people in the roles you’re checking out at PR companies have experience in public speaking, that’s a great place to focus your time and energy.
What Gaps in Knowledge Does My Team Have?
On the flip side, pay attention to the knowledge gaps on your team. If there’s knowledge or experience that no one else really has—but that could help you all on an upcoming project—that could be a great place for you to take on new skills and really shine.
For instance, if no one in the department ever wants to make client presentations, getting some public speaking training would be a huge boost for the team. If no one on your email marketing team knows how to code, why not take on the challenge?
What Characteristics Does My Boss Value Most?
Finally, think, watch, and listen to your boss. Consider the characteristics she possesses, as well as the ones that she doesn’t, and fill in the gaps. If you can handle tasks that would otherwise be challenging for her (say, you know she loathes Excel), that’s an easy way to make life easier for her and at the same time take on more responsibility.
Also listen to the comments and compliments she gives. What traits does your boss admire in others? What praise has she given lately and to whom? Through this type of feedback, you can glean the qualities that she values—and get to work on those skills.
Being well-rounded doesn’t mean you have to be great at everything, or even involved in every aspect of your company’s work. But if you strategically expand your expertise based on your own strengths and weaknesses and those of your team, you’ll add a huge amount of value to your organization—not to mention your resume.