JOB HUNTING - PREPARE YOURSELF
One of the most important things for you to know about yourself is your skills. You'll need to describe them on your resume and talk about them on interviews.
Here's an exercise to help you organize your skills and then determine which ones you want to use on your next job. This exercise will take some honest appraisal work on your part.
First, make a list of everything you can do. This is the time to be generous about your skills. You'll pare the list down later. Right now focus on everything you can do, for example:
This list includes skills from the workplace and outside it.
Also think about what you know - specific information that you've learned through education, training, hobbies and on-the-job experience. Examples include:
Even if there are things you know or do well, but don't like doing, list them anyway. Don't worry if you don't do everything on your list well. This isn't a time for evaluation. Your list should have more than 100 items on it. Two hundred would be better.
Now, make four columns across a second piece of paper. Title the first FREQUENTLY, the second OFTEN, the third OCCASIONALLY and the fourth NEVER. Write each of the items from your first list in the appropriate column on this page, based on how often you want to use each skill. Think of "frequently" as daily or several times a week, "occasionally" as once a month or less, and "often" as in between.
From this second list, select 15 items from the FREQUENTLY column that you enjoy doing, 15 from the OFTEN column and 10 from the OCCASIONALLY list. Write them down and see which ones seem related to each other.
Are there several that have to do with helping others? Is communication a category? Could a group of them be called "creative"? Use your own list to generalize about your skills areas.
There will be more than one, probably three, fairly strong areas of ability. These are the skills you should be seeking to work with in your next career move. They're the ones you'd like to use most frequently and you'll feel frustrated if you don't.
Once you have your list of preferred skills, you can scan job postings to see if there's a match between what you want to do and what the job requires. Remember, if there's a skill you don't want to use, don't put it on your resume.
by Jan Cannon, MBA, PhD: