Sparks from a sparkler

Chasing Unicorns, Part II: Closing the Talent Gap for UX Professionals

Recently I wrote about the talent gap in the content space. My colleague, Allison Joyce, and I delivered a webinar on the talent gap, so this subject has been on my mind. Now I want to address how someone working in the content space can close their skill gap and become a unicorn.

We heard some great feedback and I wanted to respond back to one comment that we had about “you know we don’t like to be called unicorns.” I thought more about this as a customer/content professional myself and consulted with my peers. Being a unicorn is a good thing. It is widely recognized that these skills are important and hard to find. At some point, they won’t be. We as professionals need to take this as a charge and make sure we can evolve and develop our skills appropriately which is a perfect intro into today’s topic. I want to explore how professionals can close the gap.  Part three on this topic will be on how businesses can close the gap.

If you examine each area of the content value chain you will see specific skills that are currently missing.  For example, to create a complete customer experience, a web designer should have some understanding of how content should be written for the web so that designer brings a more holistic view to the work.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. To close our gap, we need to be true to ourselves and rank our weaknesses in context of the four core tenets of customer experience: content, user experience, technology, and marketing. If I am weakest in content development, I’ll rank myself a 1 there. If I am strongest in technology, I’ll give that a 4. These areas have some obvious overlap.  For example, if you write or create content, you probably have a fundamental understanding of marketing, so your groupings will be close.

You will want to focus your skill development in areas that are close together. This will allow you to optimize your learning and development. If you are an information architect, it could be harder to make a broad leap to start improving your marketing fundamentals.

Once you identify your strengths and weaknesses as well as your skill areas that are close together, you can build a development plan to facilitate and support that development. Your approach will be custom, designed based on the nuances of your current skills and where you want to develop.

There are too many options to cover in a blog post, but I would be happy to discuss a development plan with you and provide tangible options based on your individual skill base. Connect with me (via Twitter, email, or LinkedIn) if you want to set up a quick half-hour call.