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What Are Your Job Skills?
by Jan Cannon, MBA, PhD

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Preparing to Apply for a New Job
What Are Your Job Skills?
Published with permission from FabJob.

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:

  • supervise others (employees, children, cleaning lady)
  • write reports
  • drive safely
  • manage a budget
  • use a computer
  • get along with people
  • synthesize information
  • invent things
  • repair broken lamps
  • organize projects
  • etc.

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:

  • insurance sales techniques
  • tax accounting
  • knowledge of zoning by-laws
  • research in child development
  • surfing the 'net
  • etc.

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.





brainstorm new ideas
design conferences
speak to groups
organize meetings
write reports
develop websites
drive carpool

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.

Click here to find a fabulous career.

by Jan Cannon, MBA, PhD:
Jan Cannon has over 10 years of experience helping clients to find work that they enjoy through career coaching and resume preparation. She was an online expert with and and currently provides online content to the Career Connection of the Boston Herald. Jan speaks to groups and leads workshops on making career choices, networking, finding jobs, and staying motivated. She teaches courses on entrepreneurship for those interested in starting their own businesses. Jan has Myers BriggsT MBTIT and FirstStepFastTrackT certifications and offers InscapeT DiSC assessments. Jan's book on senior job search will be published by Capital Books in April 2005. Jan's own web site is at

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