Hobbies and passions outside of work are your advantage as a T-shaped specialist.
In the early 1990s, there was more and more talk about the importance of soft skills and the need to have interdisciplinary competencies as opposed to narrow expertise. To signify a new model of skills and specialists, recruiters came up with the T-shaped concept. However, McKinsey & Company already used the term in internal documents in the 1980s to refer to ideal employees, consultants, and partners.
What is a T-shaped skill model
T-shaped specialists are people with strong expertise and well-developed skills in one area (vertical in “T”) and abilities, knowledge in areas that do not belong to the main field, but are useful in a wider context (horizontal in “T” ).
For example, a photographer takes portrait photographs. He is fond of cinema and loves social networks. Interest in cinema helps him to direct the shooting: to select clothes, work with space, build a composition.
Passion for social networks helps to choose the appropriate formats for presentation, promotion and communication with the audience. The photographer becomes the producer of the whole product: influences the theme, packaging and promotion, and not just the quality of the photos.
Who benefits from the T-shaped model
Typically, the T-shaped model is used by HR specialists to select the right employee. You can use it for yourself: find meaning and value in work, change profession or field, combine interests with work, plan a career and educational trajectory.
In the classical approach to the education and development of a specialty, the I-shaped model is used. One specialty – one vertical. Narrow specialists are responsible only for a specific type of tasks and projects. For example, a copywriter writes text and does not work with illustrations or layout. Over time, such a specialist will become an expert, but it will be more difficult for him to work in a team. Behind a person with I-shaped skills should be a manager who distributes tasks and plans the workflow.
At the same time, the discrepancy between the competencies of employees and the requirements of employers is growing and remains one of the main problems of the global labor market. Companies increasingly need people who can solve problems in different areas, adapt to changes and work with other people. The competencies of a narrow specialist can quickly become obsolete. In order not to lose your job and remain in demand in the labor market, you should develop your main specialization and be interested in related areas.
How to combine interests and work
T-shaped helps you evaluate yourself and your T-skill potential, identify areas at the intersection of your expertise, skills and interests.
To combine work and interests into your own T-shaped model, you need to do a few exercises:
- Write down your skills and interests;
- Determine the main and general specialization;
- Make a learning plan and career path options, review them periodically.
Write down your skills and interests. Think of a few work situations or projects where you performed very well in your opinion and in the opinion of others.
- What works well and from what you get joy, satisfaction and energy.
- Skills that have helped you achieve good results. If they are difficult to identify, ask colleagues and supervisors for feedback.
- What do you know well, but not yet an expert.
- What you want to do but keep putting it off.
- Define your core specialization. The main specialization is what you do best, get satisfaction and money from it.
Find extra activities. Identify interests that will complement and enhance your core specialization. For example, if an editor is interested in education and self-development, he might start teaching the basics of copywriting and storytelling.
Make a learning plan. Determine the skills you want to develop. Set goals, choose teaching methods, find resources, suitable courses. Look for mentors and professional communities where they share experiences.
Review the list of skills and interests. Review your skills periodically.
Don’t spend a lot of time developing obviously unnecessary professional skills. Unlearn old skills and develop new ones.
What are the difficulties
There are two difficulties in designing your T-shaped model.
First, the T-shaped concept cannot be used “correctly”. It cannot be learned, and there are no specific rules. At the same time, some hobbies cannot be combined into an integral system. Treat it as a creative process and an experiment.
Second, it is sometimes difficult to self-assess one’s abilities, skills, expertise, and interests. This is fine. Interests outside the working framework often seem useless to us, but they are not. For example, it is important for clients of PR agencies that a team of specialists understand the topic of their business: sports, health, education. Brands that are largely based on values are looking for employees who will share these values.
If you find it difficult to identify your strengths and passions, ask for feedback from people who know you well at work and in your personal life.