3 Steps to Map Your Skills to the Market

by Shannon Houde

What’s the most dreaded aspect of the jobseeking process?

Well, if my clients are anything to go by, there’s only one answer to that: mapping their skills to the market.

But while my clients may dread it, I can tell you that employers love it, and that’s why you’ll be glad you did it.


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Articulating, positioning and translating your skills for a role or a sector is arguably the most important task you’ll undertake as a sustainability jobseeker.

Over the years, I’ve developed some highly effective tools to help you do just that and, at the recent Net Impact Conference in Maryland, USA, I used some of them to lead a workshop titled ‘Sustainability Jobs: Map Your Skills to Today’s Market’ (listen to the audio) along with the wonderful recruiter Ellen Weinreb of Weinreb Group.

Our task was to show the packed room exactly how to position their skills for the market and to understand what the market wants.

In this blog, I’ve extracted the core elements from that workshop so that you can try it out too.

In my opinion, skills mapping is not a one-off exercise, something you do now and forget about when you get the job. It’s a tool for professional development that you can embrace consistently throughout your career.

So go on, rip off that band-aid quickly – it’ll hurt much less than you think!

Step 1: What are your top 3 skills?

This is the most challenging part for all my clients. It seems straightforward, but it’s actually very tough.

We all have a different audience to target and a different perspective on what we think is sought after by market, so clarify your pitch by thinking about the three most valuable skills you have to offer – just three! – and then writing them down.

Once you’re happy with them, dig into the detail! What do you really mean by project manage? What do you really mean by communicate effectively?

Step 2: Which skills does the market want?

I work with FTSE250/Fortune 500 companies and leading consultancies globally. When I’m talking to them about skills, the three thematic skills that keep cropping up again and again are:

Engagement – the ability to work internally for change and get people on board, to collaborate and share, both with our competitors and cross-functionally.

Innovation – I think this is really the most important word and skill going forward for next 20 years as technology advancements will be the key to saving the planet (think electric vehicles). So ponder: how are you going to play a crucial role in creative, innovative, technological impact?

Passion – I don’t consider passion to be a skill per se, but it’s absolutely crucial that all these skills have a foundation in determined commitment for this agenda.

A recent study between Boston College and Net Impact also identified the following skills in the industry: team-leading, strategic thinking, driving change, lateral thinking/peripheral vision, influential communicator and collaborative networker, all of which are underlined by passion.

Your passion and courage will get you through the tough times convincing others to “get on board”.

Step 3: What does the hiring manager actually want to know?

Put on the HR hat. They will be asking:

  • “What are your skills? What am I paying you to do? Can you do the job? Can you meet your Key Performance Indicators?”
  • “What are your values? Will you fit our culture and our team? What do you stand for?”
  • “What are your traits and characteristics? Do I want to work with you? Manage you? Go for a beer with you?”
  • “Which issues are you an expert in within the wider sustainability space?”

Focus on the skills point for today and cross-reference the questions above with the job description. What would you look for if you were hiring?

If you can answer that, you’re on your way to an innovative CV, with a dream job at the end of it!

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn and @walkoflifecoach to keep up to date with the sharpest sustainability and CSR jobseekers’ tips on the net. I’ve got lots more coming up. In the meantime though, if you have some time to spare, you can listen to a full recording of the event where you’ll hear all of the detail from the workshop itself.


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