Few of us these days have the luxury of ‘being sent on a course’ when we identify a development need. It is unusual enough to be provided with some coaching support. Far more likely is that you will be let loose on the internet to find your own information about how to develop your skills. One possible resource under those circumstances is SkillsYouNeed.com. This article discusses how to get the most out of the site.
Identifying skill gaps and planning for improvements
One of the most challenging issues in development is to identify areas for improvement. Wholesale gaps are usually obvious, but ‘could do a bit better’ is much harder. Skills You Need has a number of self-assessment tools which you can use as a starting point, such as the Interpersonal Skills Self-Assessment, and the What Sort of a Leader Are You? quiz. These tools will help you to pinpoint areas for development with more accuracy. The results will also direct you to useful resources on the site. Both self-assessments are available free online, but you can also buy them as part of an eBook available from the site if you prefer.
Once you have identified the areas that you plan to improve, you may want to think about putting together a development plan. The Personal Development section of the website has a number of useful pages to help you to plan your personal development. Obviously a personal development plan is not essential, but some people find it helpful to have a little more structure in their thinking. The personal development content, plus some additional material, is also available as an eBook, the Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development.
Moving from plan to action
There are a number of ways in which to use Skills You Need to develop your skills. All of them are equally valid.
The first option is to start with particular pages, using your self-assessment findings or previous information as a guide. Every page on the site, including the front page, has a search box. Unlike many site search engines, it is powered by Google, and is a reliable way of finding pages of the right topic. Just enter your search term, and start reading.
The site is also split up into sections, including Personal Skills, Interpersonal Skills, and Leadership Skills. You could therefore work your way through a particular section, say Leadership Skills, or a subsection, like Management Skills, or Entrepreneurial Skills. Each page has suggested ‘next page’ options at the bottom, or you can use the index down the left-hand side to navigate your way through. There is an A–Z guide to each section, using keywords, rather than titles, so it is easy to see what is available if you get to the bottom of one page and don’t fancy any of the ‘Continue to…’ suggestions.
Alternatively, you could simply use the links within each page to ‘go where the fancy takes you’. The site has a deliberate policy of providing lots of internal links to let you move around the site easily, and explore skill areas in more depth. Some of the links may take you to quite unexpected places, but this can be fun when you have a bit of time free.
The website is designed to allow you to read individual pages, and move around easily from topic to topic. If you feel that you need a more in-depth and focused approach to a particular subject, you may find it worthwhile to invest in one or more of the eBooks published by Skills You Need. There are several individual books, and also several different series. They all contain some of Skills You Need’s most popular content, and also some additional content that is only available in eBook form. The advantage of the books is that they take you through the content in a more structured way, which can make it easier to develop your skills. They also mean that you can focus on your development even when you are away from an internet connection.
A regular reminder
With everything else that is going on, it can be hard to remember to make time for your personal development. Skills You Need has a simple answer to that: sign up to the ‘Skill of the Week’ newsletter. Each newsletter focuses on a particular skill, and provides a brief introduction to that skill, and then a link to the relevant page on the site, and also to any eBooks. It is a helpful reminder that your development matters.
Disclosure: 6 Revs’ Principal Editor, Melissa Leffler, is also lead writer for Skills You Need.