Skills Get Jobs – Know Your Strengths

With a firm grasp on what you want from your next job, you now need to consider what you can bring to it. Your accumulated skills and knowledge are what you have to offer as an employee.

When engaging in a job search, it’s important to recognize your assets. You’ll need to present your skills concisely on your resume and discuss them persuasively with potential employers during interviews.

Word cloud focused on transferable skill sets

Many colleges, universities, and private career counselors offer formal aptitude tests that can help you identify your interests, abilities, and skills. Although they can be helpful, these tests aren’t the only way to determine your strong points. Each of us has accomplished many things in the different areas of our lives. In most cases the things we do best come so easily we don’t even think of them as skills! If you can’t think of any accomplishments, ask your friends and family. People close to you are often able to identify your skills more readily than you. The following simple activity may also help.

To get started, decide whether you prefer working with information, people, or things, because most jobs involve at least one of these situations. Prioritizing general workplace activities will help you focus on opportunities that utilize your natural talents.

For example, if you’re a people person, working alone as a housepainter will probably not satisfy you.

It makes more sense to look into working as a teacher, counselor, or salesperson than to seek work as a carpenter, a wildlife biologist, or a computer programmer.

To help you chart out your skills and interests, try our Targeting Exercise Grid. The grid is in a pdf file that can be read in Adobe Acrobat .

Once you’ve determined your preference for working with people, information, or things, think of past situations where you utilized these skills. For example, if you’re constantly taking charge of planning weekend trips with your friends, this shows your orientation toward people and information. Write down as many examples as you can.

After you’ve completed the skill portion of this activity, make a list of your interests. Perhaps you enjoy working with children, taking photographs, designing your own greeting cards, or repairing motorcycles. They can be leisure-time activities, scholastic pursuits, or things you’ve enjoyed doing at past jobs. Examples include playing jazz piano, learning about American history, traveling, designing furniture, or fishing.

Once you’ve compiled a list of skills and a list of interests, identifying suitable employment opportunities should be a snap. Use the information you have compiled for the following “5 x 5 Targeting Exercise.” This activity will help combine your lists to generate a variety of possible jobs.

  • Make a list of twenty situations you have handled, skills you possess, or results you have produced.
  • Make another list of twenty things you like to do. These can be work or non-work activities.
  • Identify the five most important items from each list and enter them along the margins of the grid.
  • Think up job titles that combine interests and strengths, and enter them in the grid. For example, you might combine a strength in writing and an interest in aviation and come up with a job description like “marketing for the FAA” or “public relations for the Museum of Flight.” If you think of more than one job description for a particular intersection, write them both down.


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