Understanding your core skill set could be the key to breaking free from the constraints of your job title.

Our careers can take us in a multitude of directions, often leading us into roles we did not intentionally pursue or imagine for ourselves.

While this unpredictability is an exciting and quite often positive facet of our working lives, finding the right role for you and one which matches your skill set is a pursuit over which you can exert some control, according to emotional intelligence expert Amy Jacobson AFAIM.

Referring to our true passions as our ‘y’, Ms Jacobson told attendees at AIM WA’s Stop Chasing The Job Title Sundowner that unveiling and understanding their core skill sets and aligning these with their work was more productive than picking a job title and aiming for it.

“It’s looking at it in reverse and going, ‘what skills am I really good at, what skills do I really enjoy and what jobs align to those skills?’,” she said.

While conceding an individual’s core skills were largely a result of nature, Ms Jacobson said she believed these could be built on and this was where a person could find their y.

“What I think is built in is our core skills – we are really good at a group of skills,” she said.

“But I truly believe you can build on those skills. Just because it’s not in your DNA and it’s not there when you start doesn’t mean it cannot go in there; it doesn’t mean you can’t grow and develop and add onto your skill set.

“For me, it’s a bit of a combination between the two and that’s where I think the y is.”

Ms Jacobson said self-awareness and motivation, two of the five key factors which make up emotional intelligence, were a good place to start to define your y.

Sundowner attendees were asked to consider these factors with the help of a skill portfolio which had them rate their preference from one to five in relation to a selection of common behavioural skills.

“You should be able to rate core skills that make you happy, and if you don’t have enough core skills that make you happy then we need to go back to your values and beliefs,” Ms Jacobson said.

“Ultimately, you want 70 per cent of your skills to be rated as fours and fives.

“If you look at those skills and you go, ‘you know what, I’m doing half of those in my current job, no wonder I’m not happy’, you can start looking at it and figure out how to get more of these things into your day-to-day job.”

Ms Jacobson said ideally skills that ranked as ones and twos should not make up more than 10 per cent of your job, while your core behavioural skills should define you in place of your job title.

“This is important because the job titles, industries and work structures we have today are probably not going to be around in the next 10 to 20 years,” she said.

Ms Jacobson said being comfortable about the uncertainty of the future workplace meant understanding your core behavioural skills and being willing to retrain for a career outside your current one.

“You really need to understand what you are good at, and not as a job title – as something that will survive in the future,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter how much automation technology comes in, we will always need behavioural skills.”

For the time being, Ms Jacobson said skill portfolios provided a great opportunity for leaders to understand their employees and move beyond providing them with the same job title, budgets, processes and targets by catering to individuality and diversity.

“When everyone comes into a company, they bring a particular skill set,” she said.

“They bring stuff they are really good at and things they’re not so good at, so once you understand people’s skill portfolios you can start leveraging them for different projects.”

In all, Ms Jacobson said there were myriad benefits to thinking and promoting yourself outside of your job title.

“There is so much more to you than a job title," she said. “Industries and technical knowledge shouldn’t limit your choice of career. If you are adaptable and you are flexible, you should be able to survive in whatever world.”


Amy Jacobson AFAIM

  • Roles Founder and Emotional Intelligence Specialist at Finding Your ‘y’.
  • Studied Deakin University; The Life Coaching College.
  • Worked Executive Manager Corporate & Commercial Underwriting WA at Vero; various management roles at Asteron Life; President at Australasian Life Underwriting and Claims Association WA.
  • Member Since 2019.

Greta Andrews-Taylor is a Journalist at The West Australia and is a writer for 'Leader', AIM WA's magazine for members.