When your field of expertise is hard to explain – The curse of undefinable talents

Published on core77 June 26, 2014

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As those of you who have read my previous posts may know, I’m an architect. Well, according to my degree I’m an architect… but if you ask my architect friends what I am, they have a hard time explaining what it is that I do. This might sound a bit odd, seeing that I’ve met many of them during my time at uni, but I do understand their trouble of defining what I do—I can hardly explain what I do, so how could they possibly do so?

Being an undefinable creative individual myself, I end up talking with a lot of kindred spirits, young and old, who are finding it hard to find/make a space for themselves in the field for which they have studied. Fashion designers exploring art, architects tackling social problems, graphic designers working in music, lawyers developing furniture, and the list goes on and on and on.

One of the things that defines us all is that we are creative, no matter what field we were or are in, our mind always find new ways of solving problems, develop new visions and handling tasks. Some of these talents are more tactile: a musician makes a new melody, an architect designs the scenography for a theatre piece, a fashion designer designs jewelry, and so on and so forth. Those are easy to understand, easy to write down and showcase in a portfolio.

Then we come to the tricky part, how do you showcase your creative side when it comes to problem-solving, people skills, your way of bringing positive energy to a business, your way of making teams work more fluidly, helping people find and nourish their passion in everything they do, how you make people feel comfortable when you are around, create an atmosphere that drives creativity to a higher level, how you make people trust you and truly talk to you, your burning curiosity that makes (almost) every subject interesting, or your way of twisting a situation into something positive or at least into something you can learn from?

These are a few things that are really hard to write down on a CV or application when looking for a job. These are the things that you do not learn when studying at a design school. These are the things that every workplace needs, but hardly any workplace asks for when posting a job opening.

You can be the best young architect in the world, but if you are horrible at working with others, you can’t communicate with you client or the engineers, you make people uncomfortable around you, and you make people feel like you are draining their energy rather then giving it to them, you will not last very long at any studio.

I’ve met many talented designers with various combinations of the soft skills mentioned above, who feel like they are falling in between the cracks since they don’t know how to define the soft skills in a way that they connect with the person reading their resumé. Many people in creative vocations have studied and graduated from university, but feel like their true skillset is a mixture between the hard skills, their soft skills and their passion for something completely different.

I see so much passion fade away within this mish-mash field of talent that it scares me. All of this positive energy going to waste. They don’t fit into a regular box of what they should do according to their degree; instead, they remain far outside of it. Sometimes they wish they fit the box, but they know that trying to fit into the box, to change themselves, to cut themselves into pieces would kill them.

So now my question to you is; How can we use this energy for good rather then to let it fade away? And do you have any suggestions on how these sort of people get these soft skills come across on their resumé/CV?

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