Why Is It Important To Become Familiar With How We Work?


We are beginning to accept the fact that most of us will have several different jobs/careers in our lifetime. In order to navigate career change(s) and transition(s), it is increasingly important to become more aware of, and more skilled at, both understanding and articulating “how” we work.

The “how” is a vital ingredient we need to add to our offering – as important as learned skills, innate skills, education and training.

The shifts taking place in the job market – positive outcomes

The shifts taking place in the job market will continue to impact the meaning of career and the preparation for it, whether in terms of education, training or the acquisition of skills.

The increasing demand for “flexible” and generalized skills emphasizes the likelihood of multiple careers. It also raises the questions: What are the types of transferable or adaptable skills suitable for multiple careers? Which skills do we value and prioritize? Which skills will be in demand for this new reality?

I believe the potential exists for a very positive shift in mindset around skills: one that could better harness the value of “how” individuals work. Here are three examples:

1. As we begin to define more clearly what “flexible” skills are and how we acquire them through education and training, the question arises as to how we might better recognize and better leverage the unique value and innate talents that any given individual has to offer at different stages of their lives and careers. Based on the impact and influence of our diverse experiences, we have in fact a built-in flexibility which we have yet to fully appreciate.

2. If we add “how” we work to our offering, we provide the job market and employers with a much more expansive skills framework, and a better picture of how our diverse abilities and natural powers can enhance a specific role or job.

3. Becoming more aware of “how” we work empowers us to design and manage our careers and career transitions as opposed to simply navigating changes in the job market.

Becoming aware of "how" we work

How do we become more aware of the personal ways we enhance any role, job or profession?

Becoming more aware of “how” we work is an area that many of my clients, regardless of age or work experiences, have difficulty fleshing out and articulating.

We can often name the skills that we are required to learn in order to execute a specific job or task. And as we gain more and more work experience, we can often identify more personal or innate skills and talents. Most of us, however, have a much more difficult time describing “how” we work, and the ways in which our natural capacities and talents interact with, shape and influence the work we do.

Our unique and continuous experiences are ripe with information about “how” we work. Becoming more aware of how we interact with our different experiences of work and how that interaction changes over time provides us with a unique perspective on our talents and skills.

Within these many experiences, developing an awareness of “how” we work includes some of the following:

  • how we draw upon our natural or innate talents and apply these to the way we approach our work
  • how we acknowledge and make use of our evolving capacities, our accumulated and unique expertise as we move into different jobs or transition to new careers
  • our motivation and attitudes towards work
  • what we have learned from our work and integrated with our own expanding expertise
  • our interests and their influence on aspects of our work that we tend to gravitate towards
  • the relationship we have with our different work experiences and what we have struggled with or excelled at.
  • our aspirations about work and what we would like to develop further in our careers

Reflective practice to access the “how”

The practice of being present, attentive and reflecting on our daily work experiences gives us information on the multiple ways – the “how” – we personalize the work we do.

Here are some examples:

  • How do I approach my work (attitudes, expectations, motivation)? Can I identify the unique approach, perspective, attitude I bring to my work? What interests me, motivates and energizes me?
  • What unique value, skills or talents do I bring to my work?
  • How do I bring my work/my role/my position “to life” – what natural talents and capacities do I recognize within myself that interact with and influence how I do my job? How do I put my personal stamp on my work roles?
  • Which of my personal capacities and/or skills are most predominant in the work I do? Has this changed with the different roles and types of work I have had? Do I recognize certain skills and capacities that are consistent in the different work roles I have had?
  • What have I learned from the jobs/roles I have had? How do I contribute to my work?
  • What have I discovered about myself in these different experiences? What new skills or capacities have I discovered within myself?
  • How have my capacities developed, and my talents expanded?
  • What skills, talents and interests would I like to develop further?

When we harness the myriad of talents that exist in every one of us and when we harness the individual “how”, we keep the changing job market supplied with candidates who offer diverse, flexible and valuable qualifications.

Britt-Mari Sykes PhD is a Career Counselor, Certified Career Strategist (CCS) and Certified Work/Life Strategist (CWS). She helps clients create personally empowered approaches to career development, career transitions, work-related stress and burnout. For more information on sessions or to book a consultation call contact her at brittmari@brittmarisykes.ca