In today’s fast-paced and dynamic work environment, jobs can go obsolete rather quickly (especially in the context of a pandemic-that-shall-not-be-named). You might even run the risk of your role being entirely automated in the near future.
As an independent professional, that’s far too much of a risk for you to take! Rather than clinging to one skill and hoping your specialisation will stand the test of time, you should consider a more risk adjusted approach to future proof your career. Start with skill-stacking. Now what’s that? Put simply, skill-stacking means becoming proficient in a few different skills, rather than specializing in any one particular field.
The job market is in a state of flux like never before. Jobs exist today that didn’t a mere 10 years ago, while jobs that had been a staple for years prior have gone extinct. The growing capabilities of artificial intelligence and machines are a large part of the increased pace of change. This shows no sign of slowing down, so it is imperative to find skills that can’t be easily automated.
Another push towards skill stacking is competition from other people. It is easier than ever to learn online, and this opens up much of the world to an affordable, high-quality education.
As amazing as that is, it also means more people gaining the same individual skills, and more difficulty in standing out from the crowd. Skill stacking can help you avoid both problems!
How do I build a skill-stack?
“The goal of a talent stack is to stack different skills to create a sweet spot. A sweet point that dramatically raises your value in a competitive field.” – Celestine Chua
Here are two different routes you may explore while building your skill-stack:
1. Go where your natural curiosity leads you.
Dig deep – what interests you? What is something you always wanted to explore, but never did in the past? Is there a hobby you could potentially turn into a career? For example, if you are an independent nutritionist who also illustrates in her free time, why not put two and two together – you can create gorgeous, highly differentiated imagery & infographics that deconstruct food myths. Take it one step further & pick up video creation & editing as well, and there will be no stopping you in the content creation game, as a path to garner more customers.
2. Build a strategic skill stack.
Go beyond learning whatever piques your interest – do your research and leverage related fields into a cohesive whole. For example, as an independent graphic designer, you may have noticed a huge push towards intuitive interface design. Not only is there endless demand for excellent UI by everyone from e-commerce players to video game creators, there are also umpteen online courses you may take to learn the essentials, brush up on basics, learn new softwares and not just skill-stack, but credential-stack as well. Because the skills you combine are complementary and not disjointed, your skill stack becomes more than the simple addition of new skills. This will open up a world of business opportunities for you.
With aggregators such as Coursera, Teachable, FutureLearn & Udemy offering multiple bite-sized, modular and even self-paced courses on almost every subject under the sun from philosophy to Photoshop, solopreneurs can synthesize their own education, build a skill set unique to them to eliminate competition and advance their careers.
Leaving you with a couple of pro-tips:
A. In a job market that is highly competitive and saturated with vanilla content skills, adding video content creation abilities to your skills arsenal is sure to set you apart from the pack, drive more opportunities your way, and if you price your offering competitively, skyrocket your sales. The ability to create high-impact video content consistently can serve as a massive differentiator – in fact, 94% of marketers say using video has helped increase user understanding of a product or service. Top up your copy-writing & campaign strategy skills with a video marketing & editing course!
B. When adding to your skill-stack, remember, it must be a skill you actually enjoy learning and applying to earn a buck! Do not simply pick a skill because you think it’s what you should learn or it seems safe. Pick one that you enjoy spending time on, and that you could see yourself continuing to pursue.
Inspired? What skills do you plan to add to your stack to future-proof your career?