A View from the Top: Am I the sum of my parts? Seeing yourself as a bundle of skills.


A few weeks back I discussed the importance of creating a personal story that helps others to understand you as a person. Part of that story line is understanding your individual skill set.

All too many recent graduates discuss the same three issues when they are asked what they are good at: leadership, group work and technology.

This may well be true, but this list is not comprehensive enough – and if every graduate has those skill sets, what makes you different?

Understanding your skill sets helps in many ways, including helping recruiters figure out which of various entry level jobs may be the best match for you. Don’t be scared off by the term “entry level”! It doesn’t always mean simply filing, making copies and attending (boring) meetings. Due to the BOGO staffing model organizations many entry level jobs perform highly intricate and challenging work. (Note provide hyperlink at BOGO back to Blog #1 where BOGO is defined.) Many organizations view, analyze and staff their organizations considering bundles of skills, often referred to as competencies. These include:

  • Analytical: this skill set focuses on being able to quickly understand and break down problems, challenges and problems. Often this type of competency is accompanied by technical awareness in specific areas such as finance, operations, logistics management etc.
  • Relationship building: this skill set goes far beyond being a successful leader in a club. Those with high relationship building skills can discuss multiple situations where situations were going awry, and their relationship skills allowed them to address the problem in a way that met everyone’s needs. As a good friend of mine who heads up a major consulting practice says “I can talk to anyone about anything. And when things go wrong it seems that everyone talks to me about how to fix it.”
  • Financial acumen: this skill set focuses on being able to understand and apply financial and economic concepts. Many students mistakenly think that only those who major in Finance, Accounting or Economics possess this competency, but this is not accurate.
  • Connector: the complex skill set illustrates network theory, the important art of connecting across multiple portions of large, intricate organizations. Individuals with this skill set often take classes from a wide variety of areas, or serve in leadership roles that are responsible for bringing large groups of diverse student populations into joint activities.
  • Process oriented: Individuals with this competency like to think about how different parts of an organization fit together, and how different processes can help the organization to be more successful at executing it’s mission. These individuals want to know how work is performed, why it is performed that way, and how the process can be improved.

Spend some time thinking about which of these competency profiles represents you – and avoid the trap of thinking that you will excel in each of these equally. Typically many of these skills are developed over time as you move through your professional career. In addition, avoid the trap of thinking about this important area on your own. Seek out trusted individuals, parents, roommates, internship supervisors and/or faculty members, and ask their opinion.

You are encouraged to send questions directly to me at e.walker@bentley.edu or to visit me at 310 Adamian. Or simply bookmark this blog which will occur on a regular basis. In our next blog we’ll discuss Applicant Management Software – and how it impacts your ability to interview successfully for a job.

By Elaine Walker
Elaine Walker Lecturer Elaine Walker