(2-minute, 30-second read)

This year’s Top Priorities for HR Leaders report from Gartner offered some eye-opening statistics and observations. Two items, in particular, caught my attention-

  1. The total number of skills needed for a job is increasing 10% year over year
  2. 1/3 of the skills detailed on a “typical” 2017 job description won’t be relevant in 2021.

So, with business changing at a faster pace than ever, employers are promoting and hiring for skill sets that may not be highlighted on your resume or may not even exist today.

Across the multiple industries focused on cost-cutting, digital/AI adoption, and (as always) growth goals, resilience and agility are at the forefront of 2021 hiring decisions.

As businesses evolve over the next few years, advancing your career may require a different mindset. Back in 2019, we all talked about finding a new job by following your passion.

Now, with employers looking for demonstrated resilience and agility, passion alone won’t get you hired, promoted, or where you want to go.

2021 is the year to talk about how YOU act under pressure and react in fast-moving environments. To prove your ability to be resilient and demonstrate agility, you’ll have to develop new ways to talk about the career blisters you’ve formed.


Defining Career Blisters

If you are proud of a hard-won accomplishment and want to talk – or brag- about it, that’s a career blister. Dan Cable wrote an excellent piece on the topic in Harvard Business Review’s November 2020 issue. Career blisters don’t come from what you’re good at, what you like to do, or what you’re passionate about. Career blisters are the demanding situations you’ve repeatedly worked through and the learning you’ve taken from those experiences. These are the instances that teach resilience and build muscle around your critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.


Identifying Your Career Blisters

The first step is to write down your blister experiences. Here are some questions for mapping out your blister events:

What were the circumstances?
What were the challenges?
What were the risks?
How did I respond?
What was the outcome?
How long did this take to accomplish?
Who else was involved?

On paper, it’s easier to see the similarities in the circumstances that surround your hard-won accomplishments. You’ll see the environments in which you work the hardest and the activities that pique your curiosity. These environments and actions are what define your ambition. As you look toward a promotion or to get a new job, single out the positions or companies that value and replicate these circumstances.


Leveraging Your Career Blisters

With new skills added to job descriptions and companies hiring for future capacity, 2021 is a year to get creative in your job search. Talking about your career blisters illustrates that your past performance is, in fact, an indicator of your future success. But you can’t only rest on the past. Companies are hyper-focused on cost-cutting, technology adoption, and future growth. So, you must proactively look for learning opportunities, whether with your current company or online, that will help you close your skills gaps.

When talking with your supervisor or potential employer, learn how to tell your blister stories, then connect how you will use what you have learned against a current challenge. Using metrics like growth, percent change, or speed to resolution helps your audience see your value and understand how you will fit within their culture. Practice these stories and examples in advance, then ask yourself and answer the following three questions:

Am I understandable?
Am I memorable?
Am I valuable?

2021 is shaping up to be a busy year full of new opportunities. If you continue to search for challenges, the path won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding.


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