Start a Home Business: Business and Career Advice: Get Ready for Your Job Search

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Set a Goal to Discover Your New Career
by Tag and Catherine Goulet

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Preparing to Apply for a New Job
How to Identify Your Job Skills
and Experience
Published with permission from FabJob.

Are you considering a job change this year?

Whether you plan to apply for a promotion at your current workplace, look for a new job, or break into a different career, taking inventory of your jobs skills and experience can help you make it happen.

Before going after a new job, we recommend you do something we call the "Where You've Been Inventory." In this inventory you will review your past experiences in the areas of:

  • Work
  • Volunteer activities
  • Education
  • Life in general

The inventory serves a dual purpose:

  • It gives you a list of all your skills and experiences to choose from when selling yourself to an employer.
  • It helps you identify what you love doing.

To create your Where You've Been Inventory, start by setting aside an hour or so when you can focus on writing without interruptions. You'll need some note paper and a pen, or you can use a computer to take notes.

If you have paperwork such as resumes or files with information about your activities, keep them nearby in case you them need to trigger your memory.

If you have a lot of experiences, it will take longer than an hour to inventory them all, so feel free to continue past the hour if you want to. But don't feel like you have to finish your inventory in one session.

It's okay to add items to your inventory as you remember them over the next few days, weeks, or months. Plus, your inventory will continue to grow as you have new experiences.

Work Experiences

Chances are your resume includes work experience, so this can be a good place to start with your inventory. In this part of your inventory you will begin by preparing a "master resume" of everything you have ever done that might in any way interest an employer. By keeping such a record you'll ensure that you won't forget anything relevant when you're applying for a job in future.

TIP: Your master resume isn't meant to be sent to employers. You'll use it to select the most relevant items to include on the resumes you prepare for employers.

For this part of your inventory, list every job you've ever held, going as far back as you can remember. Perhaps your first job involved delivering newspapers, babysitting, or asking, "Do you want fries with that?" Even those early experiences may provide valuable experience and give you insights into what you want - or want to avoid - in future jobs. You can also include any unpaid work experiences, such as internships or apprenticeships. For each job that you've held, these are some of the things you can include about the job itself. Don't worry if you can't remember all the details from jobs you held years ago. Just include as much as you can recall.

  • Job title
  • Company name and location
  • Dates of employment
  • Responsibilities (what did you do?)
  • Skills and knowledge acquired (what did you learn?)
  • Results (what did you achieve?)
  • Recognition (how were your achievements recognized?)

Wherever possible, your responsibilities, results, and recognition should be quantifiable, for example: supervised 3 people, made 50 phone calls a day, cut costs by 5%, etc. Instead of saying "I sold a lot of widgets" say "I increased widget sales by 10%."

For the recognition category include any awards, promotions, raises, letters of praise, etc. that you received.

As mentioned, this information will be invaluable when you are selling yourself to future employers. However, to get the most from this inventory, you should ask yourself some additional questions about the job to help you identify what you want in future jobs.

  • What did you enjoy most about this job?
  • What did you dislike about this job?
  • If you could have changed anything about this job what would it be?
  • Are there any parts of this job that you want to have in your next job?
  • Are there any parts of this job that you want to avoid in your next job?

Volunteer Experiences

Just like your work experience, an inventory of your volunteer experience can be used to build your resume and identify what you want in a dream job. Your volunteer experience is any involvement you've had with an organized group or activity, such as:

  • Business organizations
  • Campus activities
  • Charitable organizations
  • Community groups
  • Cultural organizations
  • Ethnic groups
  • Membership associations
  • Political parties
  • Professional associations
  • Religious organizations
  • School activities
  • Service clubs
  • Sports associations

Gathering the information for this part of your inventory will probably take more time than preparing the inventory of your work experience, because if you are like most people, you haven't kept track of every volunteer activity you have been involved with throughout your life.

However, tasks such as serving on a committee, being a team captain, or canvassing door-to-door can not only help you develop job skills, they can also help you identify what you enjoy doing.

The information you gather about your volunteer experiences can be similar to what you will have for work experiences, such as:

  • Organization name and location
  • Dates of involvement
  • Level of involvement (did you hold an elected or appointed position?)
  • Responsibilities (what did you do?)
  • Skills and knowledge acquired (what did you learn?)
  • Results (what did you achieve?)
  • Recognition (how were your achievements recognized?)

In addition, ask yourself what you enjoyed, disliked, would have changed, or anything else you learned about the types of activities you would like to have or avoid in your dream career.

Educational Experiences

In this part of your inventory you will list every formal educational experience you have had, from high school to the present day. This might include:

  • Degree programs
  • Certificate programs
  • Continuing education classes
  • Seminars or workshops you have attended
  • Personal growth courses
  • Tutoring

Note the specifics of each educational experience such as:

  • Name of program
  • Educational institution and location
  • Dates
  • Courses completed
  • Degree, diploma, or certificate earned
  • Skills and knowledge acquired
  • Achievements (e.g. scholarships and other awards, Grade Point Average, ranking in class, etc.)

As with your work and volunteer experiences, go beyond the factual information. Ask yourself which courses you enjoyed most and which you enjoyed least, and why.

In addition to your work, volunteer, and educational experiences, you may have other "life experiences" which can help you identify what you enjoy doing. This is particularly valuable information for career changers, so make sure you also take stock of your life experiences if you are considering a career change.

By taking stock of your past experiences, you can lay the foundation for your future dream job.

Click here to find the career of your dreams.

Tag and Catherine Goulet are authors of Dream Careers and founders of FabJob Inc. Visit to discover how to break into the career of your dreams.

by Tag and Catherine Goulet:
Sisters Tag and Catherine Goulet are the Dream Career Experts. In 1999 they founded, a publisher of guides on how to break into a dream career, which has been visited by 50 million people. They have been featured giving career advice in media from ABC to and Woman's Day to the Wall Street Journal online, and their career advice appears frequently on the career pages at and They are authors of the book Dream Careers: How to Quickly Break into a Fab Job! Visit to discover how to break into a dream career.

Discover Your Dream Career and How to Quickly Break In! is featured in Woman's World Magazine ("Land Your Dream Job" article, April 2007).

FabJob Guides have been featured in stories at The Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur Magazine sites.

Dream Careers

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