Are You Really Ready to Begin a Job Search?
Critical First Steps
It isn't productive to jump into a job search without a clear sense of what you want and what you offer. As you begin, take stock of how ready you really are.
Do You Know What You Want?
- What kind of work are you seeking? ("I'm flexible" or "whatever relates to my major" is not specific enough)
- What are your interests, motivations and passions?
- What skills do you like to use and hope to develop further?
- What do you value?
- What kind of work environment would you be most comfortable in?
Do You Understand How to:
- Effectively market yourself through resumes, letters, and interviews?
- Identify and effectively network?
- Perform the necessary research?
- Articulate your strengths/your "value added" to the organization?
Do You Know What Employers Want?
Many employers say that the vast majority of people they interview cannot adequately define the skills they have to do the job or articulate how they have demonstrated these competencies. In general, employers look for evidence of:
- Communication Skills
- Motivation/Initiative/Drive to Succeed
- Academic Credentials/Active Learning
- Interpersonal Skills
- Analytical/Problem Solving Skills
Do You Know Why You Are a Good Candidate?
- Can you identify all your skills and abilities?
- Are you confident in them?
- Can you give examples of how you've demonstrated these?
- Develop a skill inventory and review for each position you apply for.
- You'll need to know how your strengths meet a particular employer's needs.
Knowing What You Offer:
- Increases your job search effectiveness
- Separates you from other candidates
- Increases the effectiveness of your cover letter, resume, and interview
Take Stock of Your Skills
The competencies employers want in candidates can be developed in various ways and fall into three categories:
- Transferable: abilities that are used and needed in a variety of jobs; skills that transfer from one environment to another. These refer to our ability to effectively work with people, information (data) and things. Examples include teaching, organizing, writing, and researching.
- Adaptive: personality traits, behaviors, attitudes that allow a person to accept and adjust to the physical, interpersonal and organization conditions of a job. Examples: patient, cooperative, friendly.
- Job Specific: knowledge and abilities that enable a person to perform specific tasks associated with a particular job. Examples: html, child development, accounting.
Review the list above of what employers look for. Most of these are transferable or adaptive skills. You have probably demonstrated many of these in various ways. Begin a job search with a clear sense of your skills and how you have demonstrated them.
- Create a Skills Inventory
- Write a brief description of all paid and unpaid positions you have held.
- Identify the most important function you performed.
- What skills were necessary to effectively perform these?
- If you were to meet with a supervisor what achievements would you discuss?
Review your skills inventory as you apply for a position. How do your skills connect to the employer's needs?
Quick Reference Guides to Assess Skills and Strengths
Top Ten Strengths Exercise (32.5 kb pdf)
Transferable Skills (34.5 kb pdf)