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Assessing Your Most Marketable Skills and Strengths

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It is critical to any job search that you know what it is you have to offer or sell, and that what you have is also what someone else needs and is willing to pay for. But let's take this one step at a time.

Assessing Your Most Marketable Skills and Strengths
First, what you have to offer. In the world of work, there are two general categories that characterize your professional persona: your technical or functional skills; and your personal strengths or abilities. For convenience, we will refer to the former as your Skills and to the latter as your Strengths.

Your Skills are the things that you have done or know how to do, the subject matter you have acquired through education, or training, or on-the-job experience. They are "in your head." Your Strengths are the things that come from deep inside of you, "in your heart." They are part of your make-up, the values, beliefs, principles, style, motivations; the personal qualities that distinguish you as an individual and make you a great person.



Both of these, Skills and Strengths, are important ingredients in your marketability. Also important is the determination of which Skills and Strengths you most enjoy using, because those are the ones that should define your next job.

Here is a technique that you can use to make this assessment: Step back from your day-to-day concerns and think about your accomplishments, the things you have done that gave you enjoyment, satisfaction, and reward. Use the STAR technique: Situation or Task, Action you took, Results you achieved. Make a list of about 15 of your accomplishments; start each with an action verb and try to quantify the results as much as possible (this will come in handy in your resume development).

For example, did you Create? Design? Develop? Solve? Originate? Fix? Implement? Manage? Lead? Organize? Direct? Increase? Reduce? Establish? Improve? Invent? Sell?

If so, How Much? How Many? How Fast? How Soon? How High? How Low?

And what happened as a result? What accrued to the business or the organization?

When you have the list, go through each one and ask yourself: what were the specific Skills and Strengths that I used in order to make this happen? Try to list the three most important Technical Skills and the three most important Personal Strengths for each one. You will naturally find some repetition in this process.

When you finish, do a frequency count of the most used Skills and the most used Strengths. Make a two-column chart with the top ten Technical Skills on the left and the top ten Personal Strengths on the right. Now you have a Personal/Professional Profile of yourself that, even without your name on it, should be recognizable as you by anyone who knows you well. This is who you are and what you have to sell!

In theory, these should be the Skills and Strengths that you most enjoy using because they resulted in the most enjoyable, satisfying, rewarding accomplishments. To confirm this, look at each one and ask yourself: Is this something I really enjoy doing, using in my work?

If the answer to any one item is no, then delete it from the list.

Next, post the Profile at a convenient viewing distance in front of you. Taking in the total picture of both Skills and Strengths, ask yourself the following questions:
In what kind of work, what environment, what discipline, what job, can these best be used?

The chances are that you will be able to identify several possibilities, but one of them should be most prominent. This will take some real thinking and intuition on your part, so don't give up on it too quickly. If the answer doesn't come to you right away, take a break and come back to it later ... or sleep on it! Don't try to rush it. This is an important step, and you should give it the benefit of both quality time and thought.

Finally, the companion question to ask yourself is:
Who, what employer, what business or enterprise, organization or institution, would be most likely to place a high value on these?

This relates to the marketability of your Skills and Strengths; who will buy them; who will pay for someone to bring these to bear on the organization's problems, needs, and tasks.

If you have difficulty answering either or both of the last two questions, take your Profile and consult about five of your trusted colleagues, one or two at a time. Work on the answers together. Pool your collective knowledge and imagination to give you the best insights you can muster.

Knowing who you are, what you have to offer, and what you makes you a valuable resource ... are all essential elements of information to your job and your career.

 


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