Today, as part of National Careers Week, I talked to 300 15-16-year-olds at Garforth Academy about what helps to increase their employability while still at school. My central message is that everyone has talents. And they don’t need to look like the all-singing and all-dancing variety of a TV Talent Show. I’m talking about the everyday talents that are unique to each of us – the things that come naturally, you do well and enjoy. How do you discover them, nurture them and use them for job and career magic?
People make their biggest contribution when they recognise, value, develop and use their unique talents in support of a cause they believe in. Clive Wilson, Liberate Your Talent
Career magic is a process
Amy liked to draw as a child. Unlike most other children, she carried on into young adulthood. Just for herself, nobody else. Except other people also loved her imaginative illustrations. One of her friends even got a tattoo done using one of her designs. Amy sold t-shirts with her designs on at a market to fundraise for a volunteering trip abroad. But she didn’t think it was anything more than something she enjoys and can do easily.
That’s one of the challenges young people struggle with today. Being unable to recognise your own talent. Not realising that someone will pay you money for your talent if you make them aware of it. An employer or customer won’t value your talent if you don’t value it yourself. Believing in yourself is an essential ingredient of liberating your talent.
However, recognising and valuing your talent alone are not enough. The goal is to develop and use your talent. For example, someone learning to play the guitar can become ‘competent’. Another person might be able to pick up a guitar and play by ear without being able to read music. That’s a talent. However, unless they practice, practice, and practice, it won’t become a strength and their talent risks staying untapped and hidden. Nurturing your talent is a process of prolonged and dedicated effort.
Another critical ingredient is having someone else believe in you. Would Serena and Venus Williams have realised their tennis talent without the encouragement and unwavering support of their father as coach and mentor? I bet at school those sisters had days when they didn’t want to practice and their father made them do it. Not everyone is prepared to make the sacrifices of the Williams sisters and they wouldn’t have achieved their career magic without that consistent support and challenge.
Show your talents
Everyone can do some things that come more naturally than other things. Here are 4 ways to bring your talents out from hiding so you can become more employable:
- Recognise your talents – notice what you do well, like doing and why; ask other people what they think are your strengths.
- Value your talents – believe in your worth and look out for people who believe you are worth it. Being mentored well is one of the most inspiring experiences in life.
- Develop your talents – explore opportunities to grow your talent; volunteer, fundraise, pursue an interest or what attracts you, experiment among different settings and identify where it makes you feel good; practice lots so you turn a talent into a strength; keep learning beyond school, college and university; do it for yourself, not for others.
- Use your talents – point it at a something you feel strongly or passionately about. What do you believe in? Talent and passion tied to purpose are magic ingredients for your job and career fulfillment.
Are you wondering what happened to Amy? She got a job selling posh hot dogs in a trendy shopping centre. The owner, a young entrepreneur in his 20s, loved Amy’s illustrations and could see her talent. He invited her to do all his company branding and now other retail outlets want Amy to do the same. Maybe it will be the start of some career magic, maybe it won’t. But she’s getting paid for what she is good at, loves doing and having fun too.
What hidden talents will you release for the world’s benefit and to create your own career magic?
David Shindler is founder of the Employability Hub online learning centre, Director of Learning to Leap and widely respected in the industry as an employability expert. David understands the ‘soft’ skills, attitudes and behaviours needed by employers and can help people improve them to get the job they want.