Would you hire yourself?
If you were your manager, recruiting for your job, and you showed up for interview today, would you get the job?
It’s easy to be blasé about these things and say: ‘Yes, of course, without a moment’s hesitation. I’m great at my job!’
But if we think about the question more deeply – and think about other people who do similar jobs to us, and who maybe sometimes do these jobs better than we do – can anybody honestly say that they are always 100% the best person for their job with absolutely no scope for improvement?
As people working in the web business, it’s a question worth asking ourselves occasionally, because it focuses the mind on areas where we could possibly do better.
None of us are perfect. There is always something more to learn.
But we don’t always learn.
It’s not just about being stuck in a rut and failing to build on the skills and knowledge that might have landed us the job two, five, maybe ten years ago. Sometimes when we’re a little too comfortable in our role, we choose to expand our knowledge in areas because they interest us personally, rather than because they would enable us to do our job better.
For example, I’ve managed staff who, for arguments sake, have been decent enough .NET developers, who have taken an interest in JQuery, which is all well and good as a broad range of knowledge makes you a rounded person. But when the JQuery learning, which was only of vague use to the projects they were actually involved with, came at the expense of keeping up to date with the latest version of .NET, this gradually took them further and further away from being the optimal person for the job they did.
(Yes, I might have changed the technologies to protect identities and feelings. I’m kind like that.)
So a very good way of assessing your own skills shortfall and gaps in knowledge is to put yourself in the position of the person hiring you.
Ask yourself the tough, probing questions you’d ask a candidate for your job.
Have ideas around usability best practice moved on since you read a book by Jakob Nielsen in 2001?
Do you really know how HTML5’s inbuilt form validation works in practice, or are you just vaguely aware that it exists?
Did you ever find out exactly what happens when Facebook shows updated statuses in real time, or is ‘something with AJAX, probably’ explanation enough?
You won’t get to be the best in the business without pushing yourself hard, and the first step is admitting what you don’t know, so you can begin learning it.