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Marielle Legair
LinkedIn invited me onto their podcast

LinkedIn invited me onto their podcast

career advice

Focus on Your Skills, Not the Job Title

I was recently interviewed for LinkedIn’s popular Get Hired podcast. Check out the transcript where I share how to develop your skills to thrive at work.

Andrew: I'm a journalist, but that doesn't mean I can't use the skills from that career in different areas, such as the tech industry, business, and elsewhere. Today, we're talking about all the bits and pieces of knowledge that make you, well, you. In other words, we're talking all about skills from LinkedIn News.

This is Get Hired, a podcast for the ups and downs of our professional lives. I'm Andrew Seaman, LinkedIn's Managing Editor for jobs and Career development. Each week I'll get hired. We talk about leveling up. Sometimes we talk about finding work. Other times we talk about excelling, where you are right now. And through it all, we focus on how to stay true to yourself in the process.

Okay, to start today's show, I want you to try a little visualization exercise with me. It's very simple. First, picture a basket sitting on a table. The basket has a sign on it that says your profession, such as accountant, pilot, chef, administrative assistant, and so on. You get the idea.

Then I want you to picture a bunch of jars in that basket with their own labels. Each one says a skill you use in your profession. For example, my basket says LinkedIn Editor, and it contains jars that say things like writing, interviewing, organizing, script writing, video editing. And I could go on. 

What's nice is that those jars, those skills don't have to be in that basket. You can pick them up and put them elsewhere. So I could take my organizing, writing, and interviewing skills into being a recruiter, for example. A world of possibilities opens up to you when you view yourself as a basket of skills, not just the basket.

So today we're talking all about skills, the foundational elements of a person's success. My guest today, Marielle Legair, is an expert on personal branding and the instructor behind the popular LinkedIn Learning course, Use Your Strengths for Impact and Influence at Work. She joined me in the studio to share some advice on how to start thinking in terms of the skills you have and what you'll need to get to the next level. 

First, I wanted to know why skills are so important in today's job landscape. Here's Marielle.

Marielle: I view skills as ever-evolving. I think we all have to be continual learners, and a lot of self-reflection, I think, is important as well. So, like, really reflecting on what do I want to be known for? What do I want to be good at? And making sure that we're constantly developing our toolkit, if you will, and not staying stagnant.

Andrew: And I think a lot of people, they don't continue to develop their skills like they might do it incidentally. Right? So they get a job and they're taught something and they're like, okay, well, that's done. Yeah. But for people who are job seeking and they may find themselves in a position where they say, okay, I want to get a new job, but I don't know where I am in sort of the stream of knowledge. How can people assess what their skills currently are?

Marielle: I would suggest by starting with the very basic. So what I like to do is literally get a blank piece of paper, draw a line down the middle, and literally write out everything that you want to be good at and that you feel you're good at almost doing a self-audit and then identifying what are the gaps. 

So, for instance, speaking skills, I feel are really important for everybody. Leadership skills, digital skills. Because, let's face it, we're in a digital age now. People are always going to be Googling us. So how are we showing up? What is our LinkedIn page like? Do we have those basic skills to really put our best foot forward? So I think it's about doing that self-audit first and then going from there.

Andrew:So how do people know what counts as a skill? And what would be valuable to list on that page?

Marielle: I would say ask, ask somebody that you trust and really get their feedback as well. What do you feel are my great skills? Because sometimes I feel we're often too close as well. We're like, oh, I'm great at this. You know, I'm amazing. Well, actually, are you? So get feedback. I think feedback is really crucial for anybody looking for a job.

Andrew: Okay, great. So basically, ask people what is important in your job and what are the traits that you're looking for in someone that you want to hire.

Marielle: Yes, absolutely. And then just filling in the gaps. I mean, we all have gaps in our skill set, right? So I think it's important to just identify what those are, get that feedback, and just be open to always developing yourself. This is a lifelong journey, right? It's not, oh, by the way, you need to be good at everything tomorrow. Just start at the top. Prioritize what is important to you. I always like to tell people, start with the end in mind. So what is your end goal? And then where can you kind of break that down into little microsteps to develop those skills?

Andrew: And what is your suggestion for people who say, hey, listen, I really need to get these three skills? How do I even start there?

Marielle: Yes. Great question. So I feel like there's so many free resources online. I feel like Google should be your best friend, especially when you're wanting to find a new job or transition. So even LinkedIn learning shameless plug. But there's so many incredible LinkedIn learning courses that are bite-size actionable. 

Start there or start on YouTube. And the beauty is that you can bookmark them, you could save them, you could listen to the audio while you're working in the background. There's so many ways to just soak up that knowledge, which is great.

Andrew: When you are in the process of learning. I think something that I've always struggled with is my failure in life is that I can't learn French. I've tried so many times. And I think something that always gets in my way is that no matter how far I get, I always feel like I'm not there yet and I don't know enough. So how do you know as a person, when you get to where you're going or where you have enough, where you can say, hey, I have the skills and you're always going to be learning, but how do you know when you're there enough?

Marielle: Yeah. Wow. And I hear you on the French thing. I did it when I was like,13, and that's where I stopped. I would say put it to the test. You know, I think there's a difference between having theoretical knowledge and practical knowledge. 

So I think the more that you apply something, it's like a muscle, right? Like, if you don't work your muscles, they get stagnant, right? And they kind of seize up. I think that's the same with skills. There's a difference between sitting in a French class and going to Paris and trying to buy a croissant, trying to board the train. So those are the things. I think the more that you put it to the test, the more confident you'll become.

Andrew: Yeah. And then with skills and when you're learning, how do you stop yourself from atrophying again? Because, you know, I think a lot of people, when they get out of college, maybe for the first time and they get their job, they start thinking, okay, education is behind me. I'm good. And maybe then you realize, maybe there's a layoff. Maybe you want to switch careers and you sort of say, oh God, I need to get back on track again. How do you keep learning so you don't find yourself in a position where you're sort of scrambling to gain skills?

Marielle: Yes. Oh, gosh. I think it's about mindset. I often say that there's two types of mindset in your career. You can have an employee mindset, or you can have an intrapreneurial mindset. And I believe we all need to develop an intrapreneurial mindset. And by that I mean we need to be constantly learning. We need to be constantly working, not just your job, but on our brand as well.

So that requires a totally different shift in perspective. That means that you need to take accountability and full responsibility for your career path. That means that you need to reflect, have that time to yourself, where you reflect on, okay, this is where I am. This is where I want to be regularly. I would say quarterly.

Have a sit down with yourself and reflect on where you are and make sure that you don't have that traditional employee mindset. Because what the last three years have taught us is that things change pretty quickly. And the way that you can overcome those challenges is by taking ownership of your skills.

​​Andrew: Yeah. Once you do sort of say, like, okay, this is how I want to position myself, this is what I want to be known for, and you accumulate those skills, how do you advertise that as a job seeker to show that not only are you calling yourself that, but you have the skills to back it up?

Marielle: Yes. And this is where LinkedIn is great, because I feel like we all need to take care of our digital footprint. And we all need to see LinkedIn as our, I like to say, your digital storefront or your portfolio. So really showcase the expertise that you want to be known for. You need to make sure that when they Google you, you like what comes up. And this is where your digital portfolio is important, because you can really showcase and position yourself effectively on the platform to demonstrate those skills.

Andrew: Yeah. And how would you demonstrate those skills on LinkedIn or even on your resume or cover letter?

Marielle: Yes. So I think you want to be thinking about who it is that you want to attract. Oftentimes when we're looking for a job, we just think about ourselves. When thinking about your stakeholder, who's going to be reading this? What do they want to see? And how can you demonstrate that you have the expertise that they're looking for? So, again, it's thinking about who is your audience, who are you talking to? And how can you demonstrate that you have the solution to the problem that they're hiring you for? So always try to think about them and not necessarily just you.

Andrew: We're going to take a quick break. When we get back, Marielle talks about how to make a pivot and the importance of finding your community.

Andrew: We're back with personal branding expert and LinkedIn learning instructor, Marielle Legair.

So how do you pivot your brand and your skills? Like, so say you want to go from working in customer service and now you want to work in real estate. How do you make a transition like that with your skills? To say, hey, listen, I can do this, but then also change your brand at the same time?

Marielle: Yeah, this is a great question, and it's something that I've actually done myself, and I think it first starts with developing courage because it's going to be scary and that fear of the unknown is going to come up for you and feel into that. 

Recognize that it's totally normal to feel nervous about a big change, but that shouldn't stop you doing it, right? Like, we shouldn't never let fear stop us. I would also suggest talking to people who are in the industry that you want to move into, like, the more that you could find out about it, because sometimes we have illusions in our minds. 

Something may look really glamorous. Back in the day, I used to want to be in advertising because I thought it looked really sexy being in London and watching it on New York TV shows like, oh my gosh, this looks so glamorous. This is what I want to do.

Andrew: It's not that usually.

Marielle: Usually just getting coffee for like, a long time, but to make that change, I began to speak to people in the industry and I got a real sense of, okay, what would my day look like day to day? What would I be doing? What sort of career opportunities would I have if I transitioned? And really just to get a feel of it. But I would also say don't feel like you have to make a major big move. Start small. Recognize that you're going to feel nervous. Build that new network of people that are doing what you want to do and go from there.

Andrew: Something that you've brought up a few times is sort of talking with people. And there are a lot of people out there who probably think that they can go it alone most of the time. But really, when it comes to skills, your brand and learning about a career that you want to go into a job, you have to talk to people, right?

Marielle: Absolutely, yes. Because none of us achieve success alone. I think it's so important and often say your network is your net worth and more so when you're looking for a new job because it's likely that you may not know the industry that you want to go into. You've never done the role before, so you need to really become an avid networker.

The one thing I would say as well is try to build a rapport first with people rather than just going in for the ask and trying to take tape. Think about what can you do for them? 

Is there something that you can help them with? Is there maybe an interest in article that's relevant to them in their field? Or is there something that you could do to show that actually, I'm here to help you and make it reciprocal in some sort of way.

Don't just be somebody that never networks and then when you need to, that's when you start panicking and start trying to network because that relationship, it takes time to build. And this is why it's important to be intentional about the relationships that you build and make sure that you're doing it continually and not just when you need something

Andrew: Coming back to sort of job seekers, when they do find themselves maybe suddenly out of work, usually that's where the panic sets in. And it's like that fight or flight mechanism. But for job seekers who do find themselves suddenly unemployed and they say, okay, I need to find something else, they're sort of just lost.

Marielle: Yes, and I know that we're going to see more of this. I think the first thing is to take time out. I know it may sound counterintuitive, but even if you could just take a day just to pause and try to get your mind in a good space. 

And then I think rather than just frantically trying to apply to anything moving, I think the first thing is to reflect, really go inwards and reflect, okay, what do I actually want to do? Because oftentimes, and it may not seem it at the time, but often it's a blessing.

Really think about what do you want? What do you want to do? What is going to light you up day to day? And one thing that I recommend doing is writing out your ideal day. What do you want to be doing between nine and ten? What sort of environment do you want to be working in? 

And try to visualize that. That's something that really helped me. And when I did do that, I realized, oh my gosh, I've been working in jobs that aren't actually aligned. I've just been kind of like sleepwalking through my career a lot of the time. 

So I think it's really important that you take back control and really reflect and try to think about designing a life and career that is aligned to you. And then once you're clear on that, then thinking about, okay, who do I need to be talking to? What is my ideal job? And then go from there. 

And I'd also recommend seeing a career coach. A lot of people don't recognize that there are actual experts out there who can help you.

Andrew: Yeah, a lot of career coaches, they do have assessments that they can give you. So they say like, okay, let's see what your skills really set you up for right now. And then if that's not what you want to do, we could sort of say, okay, for this job, this is where you need to go. So if you're really struggling and you can't do the sort of self-assessment yourself or you need that guidance, they could probably help you with that too.

Marielle: Yeah, for sure. And it's so insightful. So I think each of us has to really take that time to understand what works for us.

Andrew: Yes. And before we go, if there was one thing you could tell job seekers regarding skills that will set them up for success and something they could do today, what would you suggest it be?

Marielle: I would say keep on learning. Like, take that time to self-reflect and recognize that it's a continual journey. So don't stay stagnant. Recognize that the market is moving fast and we need to stay on top of that the best that we can. Take those small steps as well. Don't feel like you have to do everything. Just start with one thing. What is just one thing that you can do today to move your future forward?

Andrew:Yes. A little leap is much more doable than a big one.

Marielle: Absolutely.

Andrew: Thank you so much for joining us.

Marielle: Thanks for having me, Andrew.