Talent Stacking: How to Broaden Your Skillset

It’s human nature to focus on developing one skill. After all, if you’re good at something, why not become great at it? That’s the foundation for launching a strong career.

However, it’s equally important to have a broad base of skills. That’s where talent stacking comes into play. Talent stacking involves mastering one area, then building up related skills to the point where your skillset truly makes you stand out from the job market competition.

Another way to consider talent stacking is to think of yourself as a product or service. Don’t you expect upgrades every so often from the products and services you use? It’s a smart move to expect the same for yourself.

Examples of Talent Stacking

Here are examples of talent stacking and skill development that give an idea of how it works.

As noted in The New York Times, a person who wants to make a living as a novelist needs to develop expert writing skills. But that doesn’t mean they have to become the greatest writer of their generation. Becoming a good writer and then developing talent in marketing and public speaking could help them create a skillset that accomplishes their career ambition.

Combining writing skills along with coding, design and search optimization knowledge could build a robust talent stack for a web content business or blogger.

Another example is Scott Adams, who created the comic strip “Dilbert.” In his book, “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big,” he wrote about how he is not the most talented or inventive artist in the world. But other skills – strong work ethic, a tolerance for risk, solid business skills – helped him become a success.

Steps To Broadening Your Skillset

So how to accomplish talent stacking and skill development? Here is a look at some steps that can get you there.

Assess Your Skillset

Every new improvement project begins with assessing where you are. Be honest about your skill gaps and decide what needs to be worked on. Don’t think just about the hard skills that are associated with the job you want. Think also about soft skills such as communication, decision-making and time management.

Make a Plan

Now that you know what skills you want to acquire, how will you go about it? In some cases, people seek certification in areas that can boost their career. Others take advantage of company programs or job shadowing opportunities. When creating a plan, write it down in detail. Create a timeline with milestones and reward yourself when you each them. No one can do this for you. It’s crucial in this step to take ownership of your career – both what you can do in your current job and where you’d like to go.

Do Your Research

Don’t mess around – go right to the pros. Talk to people you know who have achieved something you want to achieve and find out how they did it. This is where the internet is invaluable. You can do a deep dive into your specific topic by seeking out blogs, podcasts and papers on the skill you want to attain. Make trips to the library to check out books on your topic of interest. Take advantage of free online courses.

Get a Mentor

There’s a reason why mentoring has been a thing for thousands of years: it works. Passing down knowledge from the experienced to the ambitious is one of the best ways to learn a new skill. Look for a mentor who works in the area where you would one day like to work. Seek out someone with the skillset you want to acquire. Check to see if your company offers a mentoring program – many do.


Time spent doing something is the best way to learn. Nonprofits and trade associations typically have volunteer opportunities. Try to take on leadership roles as they become available, including committee chairmanships or becoming a mentor yourself. This area is especially useful for developing strong soft skills.

Focus On a New Skill Each Year

How many skills can you learn? That depends on the time you have set aside in your plan to learn them. One smart idea from Forbes is to learn one new skill a year. By devoting a full 12 months to mastering one topic, you can acquire many new skills over the course of your career. This way, you are upgrading your talents annually.

Consider Courses and Certifications

Online courses have created many opportunities for those who want to learn a new skill. Certificate courses can help you learn the valuable skills in areas such as process improvement and project management. Free online courses are available on multiple topics to hone both hard and soft skills.

Never Stop Learning

Continuing education has been around for decades, but the concept has never been more critical than today. Keeping yourself armed with the skills you need in an economy that is constantly evolving takes effort and commitment on your own part. Plus, learning new skills keeps you engaged in your career path and in control of where it takes you.

Keep these ideas in mind as you plan for talent stacking. A commitment to skill development over the course of your career can help you attain the jobs you really want.

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