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Right now, lots of people are looking for work. Some are unemployed. Others are unhappy in their current position. But, whatever the situation, every job seeker has at least one thing in common. They all need to know what they have to offer.
Evaluating what skills you can offer is an essential part of every job search. Being able to effectively communicate these skills to a potential employer is equally important. Yet, many people have difficulty with both.
Many job seekers, particularly women who have been out of the workforce, underestimate their abilities. Failing to appreciate their skills leads them to undervalue themselves in the marketplace. Which, in turn, prevents them from selling themselves effectively during a job interview. In the end, they don’t get the offer.
What can you do to prevent this from happening? Start with the basics. Realize that a skill is anything you can do. Skills fall into one of three categories: Innate, Transferable and Job-Specific.
Innate skills are what we typically think of as personality traits. We use them in every area of our lives. They are the ways our friends probably would describe us, words like dependable, organized, honest and friendly. While you may not consider these valuable skills, employers do.
Most people don’t lose their jobs because they can’t do the work, according to a survey of personnel directors conducted by Robert Half & Associates, cited in The Very Quick Job Search by J. Michael Farr. Only four percent of survey respondents considered “not doing job” the most disturbing employee behavior. Employers were more concerned with behaviors like “lying and dishonesty (14%), absenteeism and tardiness (12%), arrogance and overconfidence (10%), and lack of dedication (6%).”
Transferable skills are those that transfer readily from one job to another. A number of these skills, like communication, come more naturally to some of us. However, they can be learned and developed over time. Highly transferable skills include: written and verbal communication, managing, negotiating, problem solving, and meeting deadlines.
Recognizing, and promoting, these skills can improve your marketability. For instance, each company conducts business in its own way, however, being able to motivate employees is valuable in any setting. Transferable skills are particularly important when you’re transitioning to a new career. The ability to write well, for example, is an asset in any industry.
Job-specific skills are those considered particular to an occupation. When asked to name their skills, these often are what people think of first. They include things like using specific software applications, operating machinery, computer programming, flying a plane, and typing a certain number of words per minute.
While these skills are valuable, many do not easily transfer to other positions or industries. An administrative assistant interviewing for a management position, for example, should focus on things like problem solving and getting along with others.
It’s essential to evaluate your skills before beginning any job search. In the first place, you’ll need this information to create your marketing materials — your cover letter and resume. You’ll also need this before you begin the interview process.
Knowing what you have to offer is one of the keys to landing a job. Before your first interview, choose three to five skills you want to use in your next position. Hopefully they are among your strongest. Next, prepare examples of when and how you used each skill. For example, don’t just say you are a team player, talk about working with others to complete a project.
For most of us, just thinking about finding a new job is intimidating. Landing a similar position in the same industry can be difficult. Changing careers can be even tougher. If you’re contemplating either taking stock of your skills will increase your chance of success.