According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person changes jobs 12 times on average during their career.

Most people nowadays have various roles and jobs within their career. Even though being an expert in a specific area can lead to a successful career, it is a more rigid approach that could potentially limit the number of opportunities available to you in the future.

However, adjacent skills can open new doors in a career.

What Are Adjacent Skills?

Adjacent skills are essentially skills that are close or related to the ones you already have. The primary advantage is that you are not starting from scratch because you can usually use some of the knowledge from your current skills to obtain adjacent skills. Not only will the process feel easier, but you will reinforce your current knowledge.

Another advantage is the adjacent skills can enhance your existing skills — it is a way to complement what you already know.

Building skills through adjacency can help differentiate yourself from others and collaborate better with your teammates.

The Benefits of Adjacent Skills

These skills can be applied in many contexts, but here are some examples involving team work.

  • Increase empathy. We often think our job is more complex than our teammates'. However, when an engineer learns about the job of a technical writer, for example, they can appreciate the complexity of their teammates' job and become more empathetic.
  • Improve communication. In addition to empathy, we learn the appropriate vocabulary used by other teammates.
  • Expand career perspective. If you have two skills that complement each other, this will allow you to create a unique role for yourself.
  • Sustain motivation. Sometimes, it can be tedious to work on the same parts of a project for long periods of time, even if you enjoy the work. Having these adjacent skills means you can switch between a range of tasks.

Examples of Adjacent Skills

I have compiled a list of possible adjacent skills that may relate to you (of course, this is a non-exhaustive list).

Of course, this is a non-exhaustive list, so try to brainstorm as many new skills that are relevant to your current role as possible. Soft skills such as time management and negotiation count too!

Once you have a list of potential skills, choose one to focus on. Ideally, the new skill you choose should make you feel curious, easy to acquire, and useful in your work environment.

What adjacent skill do you want to focus on? Let me know in the comments below!