Four Stages of Industry Knowledge Expertise


Every organization has people whom are looked upon as subject-matter experts. These folks have the institutional knowledge that can only be gained through years of experience. Therefore, they are indispensable and are likely to survive downsizing, restructuring, or layoffs. As a young professional, I lean on experienced colleagues all the time to get my work done. However, I strive to become a “go-to” person one day. An important component of doing so is honing your skills through market research.

A market is the sector(s) pertinent to your occupation. Research, meanwhile, involves diligent or systematic investigation to discover or revise facts and theories. The key takeaway to market research is that it must be conducted with a specific purpose. In other words, growing your knowledge is an intentional endeavor. It helps to know where you are before devising a development plan. Measuring your competency will offer meaningful feedback on strengths and areas where improvement is needed.

As such, this week’s post shares the four Knowledge Competency Levels, adapted from the National Research Council Canada, as a tool to measure your industry expertise.

1. Foundational

At the Foundational level, a person will become acquainted with industry stakeholders. They will regularly read major industry publications to learn the market’s language. At this stage, attitude is more salient than technical ability. Displaying curiosity and willingness to learn market developments at the outset will bear fruit.

2. Intermediate

After some time, you will no longer be a newbie in your field. An Intermediate competency requires an understanding of the forces at play within a sector. Here, a person should be able to identify industry players, leaders, and trendsetters. Lastly, this stage calls for accuracy in analyzing market data

3. Seasoned

A Seasoned employee recognizes industry challenges related to reforms, technology, governance, globalization, and increased competition. They will know the sector’s verticals and maintain knowledge of major industry components by reading industry publications and attending conferences.

4. Advanced

The Advanced stage is the final frontier. The person at this juncture possesses a deep knowledge of the industry’s intertwining with other segments of the economy. They build rapport with other leaders on behalf of their organization. Not resting on their laurels, these individuals are lifelong learners.

Competency models provide a baseline and are not meant to be exhaustive. Thus, the time to move from one stage to the next will depend on your field. However, knowledge models are instructive in setting general standards. Where are you? What can you do to improve your industry competency? As you progress in your field, strive to become a “go-to” in your organization!

Wander Cedeño is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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