Gaining confidence in your professional profile is crucial in approaching the job market. Here is some inspiration from Stephanie who participated in our “professional profile Building” courses. We understand that the post-it notes that you’ll be seeing a lot can be intimidating, however Please note, that she has a data science background and completed this exercise in alignment with the way her brain works as well as her strengths. We hope that her experience would be a guide and to inspire you to find your own approach!
We have all been there in our quest to find a new job - reading through countless job descriptions and feeling inadequate, under-qualified and afraid to click on the apply button.
Here’s what I did to gain confidence in approaching the job market:-
1. Shortlist roles that I would like to be working in
I was looking to pivot into a product manager and/or product designer role from a hybrid role (data scientist + UX designer). I started by shortlisting such roles within the companies I wanted to work for, using LinkedIn as my primary job hunting resource. For this exercise, I found that my ideal shortlist was around ten jobs. Less might give you a skewed perspective, while too many might be too much to process.
2. Break down the job description and requirements
Each of my shortlisted roles came with a comprehensive list of job responsibilities and requirements. I started breaking down the list by copying and pasting each bullet point into an individual text box. Miro was my preferred digital tool, but other tools such as Figma, MS Powerpoint or even MS Excel can be used. The only requirement is that it has to be flexible enough for you to shift around the bullet points later on for grouping purposes.
Continuing on, I transferred all the individual bullet points onto my Miro board, which currently looks like this:-
Each of the individual bullet points were color coded according to the job title. As I was looking at two different job roles, I had the Product Manager roles in orange, and Product Designer roles in teal for easy visual differentiation. I also had the job roles categorised into different industries, which was not entirely necessary as I had discovered in the later steps of my analysis. Nevertheless, it was good to do so for my own tracking purposes.
3. Organise the gathered data in an affinity diagram
Having learnt the process of affinity mapping in my UX Design course, I applied it in this exercise and organised the job description and requirements into groups of similar items. As I was transferring the list of bullet points onto the post-it notes, I was starting to notice some recurring themes in the skill sets that these jobs were looking for, and jotted down groups for each theme. For example, a highly sought after skill set in multiple job descriptions was experience in collaborating across multi-disciplinary teams. On my board, I would then drag the relevant post-it notes and place them in close proximity to each other.
I continued with this method of grouping till all the post-it notes had been placed in a theme. The end product looks like this:-
4. Analysing my Professional Profile using the affinity diagram
Now that I had all of my job descriptions and requirements summarised into themes, I could clearly tell which were the particular skills that companies were looking for. My next step would be to look inwards at my own work experience and assess the status quo.
I have had almost a year of experience in my current job doing coding, data analysis, leading user research studies and facilitating design-thinking workshops with different business units in a mature financial institution. From this affinity diagram, I could see which were the transferable knowledge and knowledge gaps that I had. By acknowledging that I had substantial skill sets to pivot into a product manager and/or product designer role allowed me to have confidence in applying for my shortlisted jobs, and also provided talking points for me during the interviews.
As this affinity diagram also clearly shows the knowledge gaps that I have, I can now plan my next steps for closing these knowledge gaps. I could accomplish this by asking for related tasks at my current job, or I could also be simply honest at interviews about not having that particular experience, but am looking to acquire such skills in my next job.
5. Crafting my resume and setting myself up for success
In the process of doing the affinity diagram, I could spot specific phrases that have been used repeatedly across multiple job descriptions and requirements. I can now use similar phrasings to craft my resume.
While we might think that we are under-qualified for most jobs on the market, it’s good to remember that we do not have to tick all the boxes. Being analytical about my professional profile and the job market has allowed me to see that I actually have the relevant skills despite my relatively short working experience.
Data Scientist, UX Designer