Identify Your Skills
Because being aware of your skills is so important, I include a series of checklists and other activities in this chapter to help you identify your key skills. Recognizing these skills is important so that you can select jobs that you will do well in. Skills are also important to recognize and emphasize in a job interview. Developing a skills language can also be very helpful to you in writing resumes and conducting your job search. To begin, answer the question in the box.
What Makes You a Good Worker?
The skills you just wrote down may be among the most important things that an employer will want to know about you. Most (but not all) people write adaptive skills when asked this question. Whatever you wrote, these skills are often very important to mention in the interview. In fact, presenting these skills well will often allow a less experienced job seeker to get the job over someone with better credentials. Most employers are willing to train a person who lacks some job-related skills, but has the adaptive skills that the employer is looking for. Some employers even prefer job seekers with better adaptive skills than job-related skills because they are more malleable and not set in their ways.
Identify Your Adaptive Skills and Personality Traits
I have created a list of adaptive skills that tend to be important to employers. The ones listed as "The Minimum" are those that most employers consider essential for job survival, and many employers will not hire someone who has problems in these areas.
Look over the list and put a check mark next to each adaptive skill that you possess. Put a second check mark next to those skills that are particularly important for you to use or include in your next job.
Adaptive Skills Worksheet
Identify Your Transferable Skills
Over the years, I have assembled a list of transferable skills that are important in a wide variety of jobs. In the checklist that follows, the skills listed as "Key Transferable Skills" are those that I consider to be most important for success on the job. These skills are also those that are often required in jobs with more responsibility and higher pay, so you should emphasize these skills if you have them.
The remaining transferable skills are grouped into categories that may be helpful to you. Go ahead and check each skill you are strong in, and then double-check the skills you want to use in your next job. When you are finished, you should have checked 10 to 20 skills at least once.
Transferable Skills Checklist
Identify Your Job-Related Skills
Many jobs require skills that are specific to that occupation. An airline pilot obviously needs to know how to fly an airplane; thankfully, having good adaptive and transferable skills would not be enough to be considered for that job.
Job-related skills may have been gained in a variety of ways including education, training, work, hobbies, or other life experiences. As you complete the various worksheets that follow, keep in mind that you are looking for skills and accomplishments. Pay special attention to those experiences and accomplishments that you really enjoyed; these experiences often demonstrate skills that you should try to use in your next job. When possible, quantify your activities or their results with numbers. Employers can relate more easily to percentages, raw numbers, and ratios than to quality terms such as more, many, greater, less, fewer, and so on. For example, saying "presented to groups as large as 200 people" has more impact than "did many presentations."
Education and Training Worksheet
We spend many years in school and learn more lessons there than you might at first realize. For example, in our early years of schooling we acquire basic skills that are important in most jobs: getting along with others, reading instructions, and accepting supervision. Later, courses become more specialized and relevant to potential careers.
This worksheet helps you review all your education and training experiences, even those that may have occurred years ago. Some courses may seem more important to certain careers than others. But keep in mind that even the courses that don't seem to support a particular career choice can be an important source of skills.
Although few employers will ask you about these years, jot down any highlights of things you felt particularly good about; doing so may help you identify important interests and directions to consider for the future. For example, note the following:
Subjects you did well in that might relate to the job you want
Extracurricular activities/hobbies/leisure activities
Accomplishments/things you did well (in or out of school)
High School Experiences
These experiences will be more important for a recent graduate and less so for those with college, work, or other life experiences. But, whatever your situation, what you did during these years can give you important clues to use in your career planning and job search.
Postsecondary or College Experiences
If you attended or graduated from a two- or four-year college or took college classes, what you learned and did during this time will often be of interest to an employer. If you are a new graduate, these experiences can be particularly important because you have less work experience to present. Emphasize here those things that directly support your ability to do the job. For example, working your way through school shows that you are hardworking. If you took courses that specifically support your job, you can include details on these as well.
Name of school(s)/years attended:
Additional Training and Education
There are many formal and informal ways to learn, and some of the most important things are often learned outside of the classroom. Use this worksheet to list any additional training or education that might relate to the job you want. Include military training, on-the-job training, workshops, or any other formal or informal training you have had. You can also include any substantial learning you obtained through a hobby, family activities, online research, or similar informal source.
Job and Volunteer History Worksheet
Use this worksheet to list each major job you have held and the information related to each. Begin with your most recent job, followed by previous ones.
Include military experience and unpaid volunteer work here, too. Both are work and are particularly important if you do not have much paid civilian work experience. Create additional sheets to cover all of your significant jobs or unpaid experiences as needed. If you have been promoted, consider handling the new position as a separate job from the original position.
Whenever possible, provide numbers to support what you did: number of people served over one or more years; number of transactions processed; percentage of sales increase; total inventory value you were
responsible for; payroll of the staff you supervised; total budget you were responsible for; and other specific data. As much as possible, mention results using numbers, as well.
Other Life Experiences Worksheet
Many people overlook informal life experiences as being important sources of learning or accomplishment. This worksheet is here to encourage you to think about any hobbies or interests you have had: family responsibilities, recreational activities, travel, or any other experiences in your life where you feel some sense of accomplishment. Write any experiences that seem particularly meaningful to you below, and name the key skills you think were involved.
Key Points: Chapter 2
Knowing your skills is essential for answering most interview questions. Once you develop your "skills language," you can use it to help identify jobs that match these skills, write better resumes, and find a job that more closely matches what you are good at and enjoy doing.
Adaptive skills such as having good work habits and working well with others are important to employers.
Transferable skills, which include writing, managing people, and analyzing data, are useful in many different careers. Be sure to emphasize your relevant transferable skills in interviews.
Job-related skills are those skills you have learned through education, training, and job experience. When you discuss these skills in an interview, provide as many numbers, examples, and results as you can.