A few days ago, Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn appeared on CNBC to share the major findings from LinkedIn’s recent Skills Gap Analytics initiative. He tweeted and posted on LinkedIn “Excited to announce our new Skills Gap Analytics initiative this morning on CNBC. The #1 gap across 100 top U.S. cities may come as a surprise.”
In the video (it’s about 2:15 total), Weiner states, “Interpersonal skills is where we are seeing the biggest imbalance. Communications is the number one skills gap across those major cities in the United States.”
That’s no surprise to me (chuckle chuckle). That’s my world of course. And I’m glad one of the HR giants out here is waving the skills gap flag. The techies are the heroes and heroines in today’s job market with too few techies available for the demand out there.
I commented on Weiner’s LinkedIn post. That response follows at the bottom as it is only 1,500 characters following LinkedIn’s convention. I added a little bit more meat and made it flow better, directly below.
RESPONSE & SUGGESTIONS TO COMMUNICATION SKILLS GAP
If you know you need to improve your soft skills, then start today. I see it all too often, “I’ll get to it,” “It’s on my to-do list,” or you add your own.
As a soft skills professional, who consults and trains around the world as well as teach at a top business school public speaking and storytelling, it all comes down to priorities. Is it important enough to you to invest your time and resources? That’s the $64,000 question. I understand. It is human nature. There are more phobias associated with communication than any other category (Communication-Related Phobias).
You have two options as I see it:
- Grab the bull by the horns
- Run like the tortoise (a shout out to The Tortoise and The Hare, be slow and steady)
Your technical skills will get you just so far. Because when it comes down to it, it is much easier to compare people when you are comparing technical skills. Does Julie have ABC skill set? Can John do XYZ task?
What is much more difficult to compare are communication skills. How you interact? Your body language? Do you come across as genuine? Are you passionate enough (how do you measure passion)? Are you inspiring? Persuasive? Are you an influencer? And this list goes on. These are soft topics with little way of measuring success without a proven track record.
What generally sets you apart from others then boils down to communication. And often times, your demonstrated experience in communicating with fellow team members, leadership, and external stakeholders.
As such, identify your weaknesses (be honest with yourself). And invest your time more in improving your weaknesses than honing your strengths.
SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVING PUBLIC SPEAKING & WRITING
Join a local Toastmasters group, take Improv classes (I performed with ComedySportz for many years), watch experienced speakers on YouTube such as TED Talks, and invest in training and/or coaching.
Say “Yes” when presented with an opportunity to present internally, at a conference, on a panel, etc. Speak up in meetings with confidence as you have researched your ideas and can communicate the benefits as well as tell a story to touch their hearts and minds.
Know how to speak succinctly from a short version of 1 minute (think elevator pitch) to 2, 5, and 10-minute versions (something I call 1-2-5-10).
Just start writing, really. Write down business ideas in complete thoughts like a position paper. Use a grammar checker if grammar ain’t your thang. Obvi.
Have a colleague and/or supervisor read it—tell him/her what you are doing—strengthening your skills.
Another idea is to capture your thoughts on your mobile phone recording app, then play it back. While you are playing it back, write it out long form like a blog or article.
Keep doing small things (or big ones) to improve your skills.
One of my favorite quotes is from Will Durant in The Story of Philosophy: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
COMMENT MADE DIRECTLY IN LINKEDIN (MAX 1,500 CHARACTERS)
I see it all too often, “I’ll get to it,” “It’s on my to-do list,” or you add your own. As a soft skills professional, who consults and trains around the world as well as teach at a top business school public speaking and storytelling, it all comes down to priorities. Is it important enough to you to invest your resources? That’s the $64,000 question.
What generally sets candidates apart, is how well he/she communicates and often times, their experience in communicating with teams and leadership. Identify your weaknesses (be honest). Some suggestions:
Public Speaking: Join Toastmasters, take Improv classes (I performed with ComedySportz), and invest in training. Say “Yes” when presented with an opportunity. Speak up in meetings with confidence, communicate the benefits, tell great stories to touch hearts and minds.
Writing: Write down ideas in complete thoughts like a position paper. Use a grammar checker. Have a colleague or supervisor read it—tell him/her you’re strengthening your skills. Or capture your thoughts on a recording app, then write it out long form like a blog.
Keep doing small things (or big ones) to improve. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” – Will Durant
Photography Source: Screengrab from CNBC Interview