Skills Clusters: Your latest career catalyst

Skills Clusters: Your latest career catalyst

Not too long ago the job title of Office Manager would have the same job description regardless of which company they were working for. It was clear what was required of a CEO, as well as what a Graphic Designer role involved. Then job titles got a rebrand. The Business Development Guru emerged, as did the Chief Happiness Officer – reflecting the changing nature of our roles and empowering employees to discover new talents. And at the same time new and emerging industries required roles that hadn’t been defined before, giving rise to jobs title such as the Chief Purpose Officer and Climate Action Planner.
While on the surface there is little harm in getting creative with job titles, it does make looking for a new role that much more challenging. Job titles themselves are less likely to be an indicator of a role that you may want to apply for. More and more your appropriateness (or desire) for a job relies on the skills that you possess – and this is where skills clusters can help.
Skills clusters are a way to identify the collective power of the skills that you possess beyond experience, qualifications or job titles. They can reveal the interplay and applicability of these skills across a diverse range of roles and can offer opportunities for strategic career moves and growth. Knowing your skills cluster can open doors into fields that you never knew you could excel in.
So how do they work? The Australian and New Zealand Government’s identify three areas that make up a skills cluster – core competencies, specialist tasks and technology tools.
Core competencies: These are made up of non-specialist skills that are commonly used in many occupations – think of skills such as problem solving, communication or teamwork.

Specialist tasks: these are the skills inherent in performing a specific job. An accountant might be responsible for auditing the financial figures of an organisation, or a cook might be tasked with cutting raw vegetables.
Technology tools: These are the tools that someone would be required to be proficient at. For example, a Graphic Designer might need to know how to use Adobe Photoshop, or an Architect might need to be skilled at using computer-aided design software such as AutoCAD or Vectorworks.
The skills you possess across these three identifiers can help you understand how your career may advance, pivot or switch between industries. For instance, if you're in customer service, provide guest services is one of four skills clusters required for this role. Under this skills cluster, specialist tasks such as arrange services or reservations for patrons or usher patrons to seats or exits are detailed which then can link to other occupations this task might also apply to. In this instance arrange services or reservations for patrons could apply to a doorperson, hotel service manager or sales assistant – offering you a demonstration of how your skills could be transferred to another role or industry.

How employers are using skills clusters

Not only does knowing your skills cluster help you realise other directions your career could move to; you can also use them to update your CV – an important point for current job seekers as employers increasingly move towards skill-based hiring.
Skill-based hiring assesses prospective employees based on skill and ability rather than relying on traditional credentials and past experience. As the demand for talent continues to outstrip supply in many cases, employers are de-emphasising degrees and instead are considering demonstrated skills and competencies, opening opportunities to employees who have been excluded due to a historically high focus on qualifications1.
With these opportunities increasing, you can now strategically position yourself in your job searching journey in a number of ways: 

Targeted applications

You can stop trying to interpret esoteric job titles and find roles that match your skills while potential employers can identify you as the right fit for a role they might be looking for.

Effective resume building

Incorporating your skills cluster into your resume and cover letters can help you further demonstrate how your skills align with the specific job requirements.

Demonstrate your value

If you can clearly present your specialisms in skill groups that are relevant to the job you’re applying for, you’re more likely to stand out to employers seeking out workers with specific proficiencies.

How to identify yours

So how do you discover yours? You can explore the opportunities available to you based on your skills cluster on the New Zealand Government’s Career portal. Let’s say you work in sales and marketing – select this cluster family and then choose the skills cluster that is most relevant to your experience. If that’s develop marketing plans, you can choose that option and then a whole range of specialist tasks will be presented to you. Selecting one of these tasks will bring up another menu which will show you the range of roles and industries this skill can transfer across.

Transforming your job search or career with skills clusters

Grouping skills in such a way has very real potential to transform your job search, or even which career path or industry you choose.

Your skills cluster may present a new career path

Exploring skills clusters can reveal connections between your existing skills and roles you wouldn’t expect, inspiring you to consider a new career direction.

Higher earnings potential

These newly relevant roles could also offer higher pay opportunities, as you may be able to pivot into industries that experience higher remuneration.

Help you remain employable no matter the economic conditions

Skills clusters illustrate adaptable skills that make you more resilient during economic fluctuations, as you can move to roles that align with your skill set, instead of just focusing on job titles.

Give you access to broader opportunities

Skills clusters can expand your job options beyond a single field, enabling you to pursue diverse roles and industries that value your multi-faceted capabilities.

Identify learning opportunities

If you are looking to change the direction of your career, skills clusters can help you understand what you might be missing so you can be more targeted in your learning efforts. 
Once you’ve defined your skills cluster, search our available jobs to find a role that aligns to your skills.

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