A prominent management thinker, Peter Drucker, once noted ''You cannot manage what you cannot measure.'' In this lecture, we'll explore a practical approach to measuring job related skills in a competitive job market environment. To effectively manage job related skills, one needs to find a way to objectively measure her or his current level of skill acquisition, as it relates to a given job. For example, if you are considering applying for a job that has certain skill requirements, would it be helpful for you to know your objective ranking against the ideal candidate on a scale of 1-100? If you possessed an ability to do so. You would be able to see what your current standing on the job market is and how you could improve it. But the problem is that it is easy to say but hard to do. The concept of skill acquisition is fuzzy and very difficult to measure. Before we begin, we shall talk about what exactly we are going to measure and how we are going to do it. When attempting to measure a fuzzy and elusive concept, like skill acquisition, you need to first operationalize it, in other words, to find a way to pinpoint it and make it measurable. To operationalize skills acquisition, we suggest that you think about skills not in isolation, but in terms of compact job specific skill sets. A skill set is a specific combination of skills that are required for a given job. In most cases, you can interpret the required skill set from a detailed job description. Usually, required skills are mentioned explicitly, but they can also be hiding under job duties, competencies, and certifications. Deriving a required skill set from the corresponding job description, is a fun exercise that we highly recommend you to do. You may begin with your current job, or any job that you are familiar with, where you have gained a detailed knowledge of the required skill set. Can you identify the most important skills or key competencies that are vitally important to succeed on the job? As a result of this exercise, you should be able to come up with a compact list of skills for a given job. Now, after you have learned how to organize your skills into a well-defined job specific skill set, let's talk more about skill sets in general. Skill sets are important because this is exactly what employers and recruiters are looking for. Not one skill, but a specific combination of skills for specific projects. If you want to know more about skill sets that are typically required by U.S. employers, you can read about it in excellent reports published by Burning Glass Technologies, a job market analytics company based in Boston Massachusetts. The company has developed a unique methodology for analyzing demand for skilled workforce by sectors, and what is important for this course, they do it by coupling technical field specific skills with supplementary skills. According to Burning Glass, in the modern US economy, the most valuable skill sets include two components. The first main component includes the technical (field specific) or core skills. For example, if your field is marketing, your core skills would be competitive analysis, market research, product marketing, and the like. The second component includes the non-field specific or supplementary skills. Data collected by Burning Glass overwhelmingly demonstrates that having supplementary skills, for example graphic design, search engine optimization, or business analytics, will almost double your employability and will likely get you a higher pay rate. Those findings were found to be consistent across multiple occupational fields including marketing, sales, computer programming, IT, general business, design, and social media. In addition to the core and supplementary skills, the literature on employability recommends that you should also pay attention to generic or soft skills. Generic skills, which can also be called transferable skills, are those which are not specific to a particular job or industry, but can be vital for the position in question. Generic skills typically include communication skills, teamwork, leadership, cross cultural competency, and project management. These days it is almost impossible to find a single job advertising without a requirement for a prospective employee to have for example, well-developed communication skills. Now, we would like you to review the list of skills that you have identified for your current job. Suppose that you must select only five most important skills for the job including three core or field-specific skills, one supplementary or non-field specific skill, and one generic skill. We think that this exercise is useful for understanding skill sets and job requirements, and for focusing on the key competencies that are required for career growth in your area. After all, it is the key competencies that are getting evaluated by employers and recruiters in the process of competitive selection. Competitive job selection plays a central role in our approach to measuring skills acquisition. A skill-based selection is a process where candidates' observable and perceived skills are evaluated, summarized, ranked, and compared. However imperfect this process may be, it seems to be the only working solution for measuring skills acquisition in real life. The method that we are suggesting you to use to imitate a competitive job selection in your area is called simulation. All we want you to do, is to participate in an imaginary job competition and imitate the work of a selection board, or a hiring manager, or even an HR recruiting robot powered by artificial intelligence. The simulation is intended to estimate your likely competitive ranking and a skill based job selection process. The more realistic your simulation is, the more valid your results are supposed to be. Having some practical experience with competitive selection is crucial. This is why we recommend it as a prerequisite for this course. Ideally, with some experience, and maybe expert advice, you should be able to learn how to accurately predict your competitive scores. To make it easier for you, we created a simple spreadsheet application, that you can use to run a simulation. In a moment, we'll introduce you to it, so you will be able to start practising. Before you start practising, let's quickly review what we have learned in this lecture. First, to manage skills, we need to first measure them. Second, to measure job related skills, we should approach them as compact skill sets. Third, in the modern economy, skill sets are structured and include core, supplementary and complementary skills. Having the right skill set creates a competitive advantage. Fourth, in real life, skill sets are evaluated in the process of competitive selection. For training and development purposes, we can use a realistic simulation of a competitive selection. Now, there is one last step to operationalize the concept of skills acquisition. We have established that we must delegate to the employer or recruiter, the task of an accurate and holistic evaluation of the skills of a prospective employee. But how do they typically do it? You will need to find out in order to run a realistic simulation. To find an answer, you must consider the concept of skills acquisition from the employer's perspective. For an employer, it is not merely the skills of an applicant's resume that matter. What really matters, is how those skills are translated into the incumbent's performance on the job by accomplishing specific job related tasks. Some tasks are more important than others, so employers would explicitly mention them in a job advertisement. Let's call them critical tasks. Critical tasks are often explicitly stated in the job advertising message. If not, employers would expect that you, a well-prepared applicant, have already learned about the expected critical tasks from your previous experience. To unpack a job advertisement, you may need to do some research. This is another reason for you to become familiar with job market analytics such as those produced by Burning Glass. Here is the last exercise in this lecture. Can you translate the list of skills that you developed for your current job into the corresponding list of critical tasks? There may be more than one critical tasks per skill. As you can see on the screen, we selected an accounting job as an example. In the left column, we placed the skills that the prospective employee brings to the table. In the right column, we put corresponding critical tasks that the employer wants to be performed on the job. By translating skills into observable and measurable critical tasks, we complete the task of operationalizing skills. While it is difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint and measure someone's mastery of skills in general, it is very practical to identify a list of critical tasks for each given job, and use that as a proxy for the required skill set.