gender equality

Why your skill diversity is your career strength


Kayleigh AlexandraJun 14, 2017

For those of us who have fingers in many professional pies.

Afraid that your experiences are ‘too diverse’ for the corporate world? Feel like your career is at the risk of being too diluted? Don’t worry. Your diversity is exactly what the corporate world needs – varied skillsets are sought after & highly desirable. Diversity allows you to solve complex problems with creatively, and you’ll be able to relate to your team better. Here is why diverse experiences are so valuable for your career; and how you can learn to embrace yours.

Great Leaders Need Diversity

“Don’t ever underestimate what starting at grass roots can do for you.” (wisdom from Melissa Johnson.

Great leadership is about empathy and connection, something which diverse experiences can help you cultivate.

Being a good leader means being able to connect with a wide range of people. If you have a diverse range of experiences that have exposed you to people from all backgrounds and walks of life, you will probably find it easier to connect with people and draw out their potential as their manager. Diverse workplaces are becoming more common as corporations embrace diversity (here are just some of the strengths of a diverse workplace).

Being able to inspire and lead people is an invaluable skill needed by managers and executives all over the world. In big multinational corporations where you need to manage teams across different countries and continents, channelling your diversity into people management is a great way to be more effective as a leader. Putting yourself in other people’s shoes comes easy to people who have lived through different jobs and experiences.

  • Great leadership thrives on diversity
  • Diversity helps you build empathy and people skills
  • Diversity helps you be an effective manager (especially in culturally diverse environments)

Innovative Solutions & Strength Come From Variety

Ever been in an endless board meeting where everyone is going around in circles and nothing is getting done? It’s often a unique voice and perspective that finally manages to change the conversation. Getting things done often starts with a voice of dissent; with someone being brave enough to question accepted wisdom. This strength and knowledge is often grounded in diversity, life experience, and a varied skillset.

Diverse skills allow you to think about a specific problem in a different, and often more strategic, way. Be being able to look at a problem from different angles and draw on a wealth of (not immediately relevant) experience, your brain can come up with innovative and creative solutions. Use your diverse skills to cultivate your own strategic thinking and problem solving expertise – you will find that you are able to make a real difference in business and contribute with purpose.

  • Embrace creative problem solving as a by-product of your career diversity. Sell your unique strategic creativity to managers and potential employers
  • Be part of the solution, and don’t be afraid to question what’s in front of you

Side Hustles Build Resilience

Many people seek skill diversity outside of their corporate jobs. Whether a pet project sets you off on an entirely new career trajectory, or it just trundles alongside your day job; don’t be afraid of the side hustle. One day your passion may become your career, or your career may become a passion (if it isn’t already).

Doing things on the side doesn’t detract from your career – these side projects actually help you build resilience, making you better able to cope with stress, adverse situations, and sudden change. They also help you cultivate new skills that make you a more well-rounded and diverse professional.

  • Got a great idea? Are you brave enough to give it a go? These two enterprising moms Debbie & Alison used their experience of stressful kids’ birthday parties to raise millions of dollars for charity with an enterprising donation and present platform called Echoage. By coming up with an innovative solution to a common problem, both of these women were able to use their corporate experiences to launch a new venture they felt very passionate about.
  • Got a great idea? Are you brave enough to give it a go? These two enterprising moms Debbie & Alison used their experience of stressful kids’ birthday parties to raise millions of dollars for charity with an enterprising donation and present platform called Echoage. By coming up with an innovative solution to a common problem, both of these women were able to use their corporate experiences to launch a new venture they felt very passionate about.
  • Don’t get sucked in by the culture of belittlement and launch yourself into your passion wholeheartedly. Don’t let anyone make you feel like your dream of selling jewelry online is just a useless hobby, if it’s something you’ve always dreamt of doing! Experiences like these will make you a stronger and more ambitious professional.
  • Side hustles are a great way to learn more about yourself and develop new skills like marketing and branding, without the pressure of being in a corporate environment.
  • Being a part-time entrepreneur is tough – you are going to need awesome time management skills in order to stop your life slipping out of balance..

Better Work/Life Balance

Sometimes getting satisfaction from just doing one thing well isn’t enough for us. Psychological, social, and emotional health is dependent on a wide range of factors – you have to learn how to cultivate balance in your life.

Being good at a lot of things (even if they have nothing to do with your day job) is a great source of personal richness and satisfaction. Skills outside of your career can feed back into your professional life in surprising ways, and they give you more energy and drive.

If you feel like you’re struggling with one element of your life, being able to escape into something entirely different where you can thrive and succeed can be a welcome break.

Finding New Career Opportunities

Knowing more about the world, and being able to cope with a variety of roles, means that you will be able to find a wide range of new opportunities when it’s time for you to move on.

Many women find that moving ‘sideways’ with their career is a great way to develop new skills, and move on from a company when growth opportunities have stalled. Moving sideways is a great way to test out new things and discover new strengths. If you’re someone who is used to change and diversity, moving sideways is the perfect way to change up industries and escape stagnant career situations.

As a diverse candidate, you will have more career options available to you, and you might be able to break into an entirely new industry on the strength of your diverse experience.

How to Manage Diversity on Your CV

Sometime recruiters or employers will want to know more about the career decisions you’ve made; they might question why you’ve moved around a lot, or why you haven’t ‘settled’ in a certain role yet.

Don’t try to steer the conversation away from your diverse work history – face it head on and be open about the choices you’ve made (and why).

  • Consistency is not always a strength, and though people like to spot patterns; they accept that not everyone has had the same career journey. Don’t be self-conscious about your wide range of skills – embrace it.
  • Focus on the narrative of your career arc: why you did what you did, who benefitted, what you did next etc.
  • Be honest about any wrong turns or unfinished projects – focus on what you learned and move the conversation on.

Find strength in diversity. Embrace your skill diversity and use it as a resource to help you become a better leader and move forwards with your career. What professional skills are you most proud of, and why?

About WORK180

WORK180 is an international jobs network that connects smart businesses with the very best female talent. We pre-screen every employer on our jobs board to see where they stand on pay equity, flexible working, paid parental leave, equal opportunities and a range of other criteria. We also take into account diversity initiatives focusing on age, ability, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

The information we uncover is made public on our website, so that everyone knows what to expect from each employer before applying for a job. We continually review and evolve our pre-screening criteria to ensure workplaces are fair and equal for everyone.


About the author

Kayleigh Alexandra

Kayleigh loves to share startup stories and content that inspires people to think out of the box. She is currently working on a great charity project at MicroStartups.org


WORK180 is a jobs board with a difference! We pre-screen employers on paid-parent leave, pay equity, flexible working arrangements and more. Find your dream job here.


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