When it comes to job hunting, it’s critically important that you identify your skills and can clearly and persuasively articulate these skills to prospective employers. Surprisingly large numbers of students and graduates do not have a clear understanding of what they have to offer an employer, and can sabotage their job hunting efforts as a result!
A ‘self-assessment’ is an important preparatory step for any graduate job seeker. It’s a process of actively reflecting on yourself and your experiences to identify core skills, goals, knowledge, attributes and motivations. It may seem like a bit of a procrastination technique, but it’s actually a healthy and worthwhile activity that will greatly improve your prospects of getting a job (and more importantly, the right one) and help you to make sound career decisions.
Even if you already have a good idea of your skills, it’s worth taking the time to do a focused self-assessment. The benefits of this exercise include:
- drawing your attention to previously unrecognised skills
- improving your job applications and interview performance
- increasing your confidence and self-awareness.
How to self-assess
Break your life into its various components, such as work, secondary school study, university study, sport and personal life.
- Look at each area and consider what it involves, taking note of significant experiences and projects. Important aspects to look for include: responsibility, time management, communication skills and teamwork. Consider the capabilities you’ve used or developed in the different areas.
- Think about how these experiences and capabilities could be applied to the industry and positions you’re interested in. It’s important not to discredit relevant skills due to modesty or uncertainty.
- Write down each skill you can identify, and alongside it note how the skill is transferable to a workplace.
- Become familiar with this list so that you’re well-versed in your relevant skills when applying for jobs and attending job interviews.
Telling a potential employer you have skill ‘X’ is not enough. Remember that you have to back up your claims by giving evidence to demonstrate your skills. This evidence can be in the form of concrete examples of achievements or experiences, such as a particular instance when you demonstrated the skill. Part of your self-assessment should involve collecting this ‘material evidence’ which supports your claims.
Keep it up
Self-assessment is not a one-off exercise: You should undertake it regularly, as your skills and experiences will grow and evolve as you do. The process can serve as a great reminder of where you’ve come from and how much you can learn through experience!