To help you sell your talents, make a detailed, realistic assessment of your qualifications and interests. But be honest—list your limitations, too. You should know what you can do and what you cannot do. But if you think you don’t have any experience, you are selling yourself short.
Even someone without “traditional” workplace experience has work experience—as a homemaker, student, a volunteer, or a hobbyist. Many personal activities are valuable in the workplace. Often, you can transfer the skills you use in these activities to a “regular” job. Ask yourself a few simple, basic questions:
- What jobs have I had?
- What did I like about each? What did I dislike?
- What skills do I have? (for example, operation of a special machine).
- For what does my education qualify me?
- What are my real interests?
- Do I have any special talents or aptitudes? (for example, playing a musical instrument).
- Do I have a physical condition requiring any special accommodations?
- What kind of job do I want?
By identifying what you like best and do best, you can pick out employment opportunities where you have a lot to offer a possible employer. You might already possess one or all of the following: job-related skills, work-compatibility skills, or transferable skills.
Job-related skills are specific things such as keyboarding, answering the phone, or entering computer data. Work-compatibility skills are characteristics, such as enthusiasm or perseverance, that help you to get along in a new situation. These are traits that an employer looks for in a good worker.
Transferable skills are skills that are useful in a number of different jobs. Examples are being able to motivate people, to solve problems, or to work with your hands. The critical-thinking skills are part of your transferable skills.
A personal assessment chart will help you organize information about yourself that will be helpful in a job interview. A chart also can help systematize your thinking for the preparation of a résumé showing your qualifications. You might organize your background and experience in three separate categories: Interests and Aptitudes, Work Experience, and Education.
Match the skills and abilities you identify in your personal assessment chart to the skills and abilities required for different jobs. You may discover that your skills and abilities match with an occupation you never considered previously. List three jobs at which you feel you would be the most successful and satisfied. List them in order of preference, 1-2-3. Using information from the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*NET OnLine system (http://online.onetcenter.org), list the skills and abilities that each of the jobs require. Are there gaps between these skills and what you can do now? What kind of experience, training, or education would help you bridge those gaps?
Still not sure?
Suppose you have carefully considered all of the factors in your self-assessment but you still can’t answer the key question: What kind of job do I want? Then you need to learn more about different types of jobs. A good place to go is your local Job Center. The center has information about jobs and the qualifications needed to fill them. You can set up an appointment with a workforce specialist who will help you decide what sort of work is best suited to your skills and interests.
Use Labor Market Information and free information from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC). This will give you information about the hiring outlook, earning potential, and education/training requirements for different kinds of jobs.
Once you have decided on your job goal, the job center staff can give you other help—such as assistance in preparing your résumé and workshops in job-seeking skills.