As a trainer, I have a pretty extensive training catalog. Some people wonder what the common thread is. Sure, my training all falls under the general umbrella of “professional development.” But other than that, my topics of interest span a wide range.
Only recently have I been able to articulate the common thread myself: I believe that all of my courses focus on Standout Skills—a term I recently coined to describe a particular kind of professional skillset.
By definition, standout means: one that is prominent or conspicuous especially because of excellence.
In this context, Standout Skills refers to skills that set you apart from your peers and differentiate you in the best possible way. They are the skills that excite leaders, make hiring managers pay attention, and often merit higher wages. They are “sellable” skills that give you a distinct competitive edge in a crowded marketplace.
The 4 Qualities of Standout Skills
I believe the skills that truly standout in the modern workplace have the following 4 characteristics:
- Require a Mixture of Soft Skills & Hard Skills
Standout Skills are multidimensional in that they combine several individual skills together. They have both “human” aspects and technological aspects. Therefore, they can’t be completely outsourced to technology (which is a good thing for you); however, we can leverage technology to enhance our use of these skills.
- Complex and Nuanced
Standout Skills are not “black and white.” You can’t learn a simple formula and then “plug and chug” your way to the right answer. They require a deeper level of intellectual investment and more extensive business acumen.
- Related to High-Impact Business Activities
Standout Skills go beyond the basic, day-to-day requirements of the job. They allow us to contribute in a meaningful way to strategic, high-impact activities that can be directly tied to business outcomes.
- Benefit from In-Depth Expertise
Because of the nature of Standout Skills, it’s not easy to acquire them in a single one-hour training session. They require both deeper, more rigorous study and real-world, practical experience.
Examples of Standout Skills
There are many examples of Standout Skills, and you likely possess a few already. The ones I consider most important for the vast majority of office professionals are:
- Project Management
- Change Leadership
- Process Improvement
- Problem Solving & Decision Making
It’s no surprise that these topics are all covered in my Learning Lab series.
To be clear: I’m not saying that these are the only skills that matter and I’m not saying you can’t leverage basic skills in a standout way.
But I do think it’s important to differentiate yourself with a “package” of skills that tells employers you have exceptional expertise in very specific, high-value fields of study.
Take some time to evaluate your own skillset using the criteria listed above and see how many Standout Skills you possess. If you’d like to add more to the list, check out the Learning Lab.