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How to identify job skills

You've decided to embark on a job search, with a clear focus and a considered game plan. So far it's been a breeze; you know what you’re looking for, where you’re likely to find it, and how you’re going to get it. But then you come to the job application and you hit a wall. You understand how to accentuate your employment history, like where you’ve worked and what your job titles were, but you’re not sure how to demonstrate why you’re suitable for the job itself.

Here’s how to identify your job skills to convince employers to hire you.

Recall your previous job skills
When you're applying for a new job, it's easy to think that your most recent job is the only one that truly counts. But to get the most out of your job-related skills analysis, consider the specific skills you used in each job you’ve had before you come to any final conclusions. You might be surprised how much difference describing the duties you performed in your first job will make.

Recognise every skill you have
It's important to consider not just job-related skills, but self-management and transferable skills, too. You'll want to be able to identify a wide-range of skills that you can use in a professional setting, so think about how your life experiences could be relevant. For example, travelling the world, planning your wedding, raising children, and running a household all use skills that can be applied to professional settings too.

Consider your personal attributes
Once you've identified a wide range of skills, think about which of your personal attributes could count as transferable skills you may not have been aware of. For example, you might not automatically associate being sensitive and perceptive with job-related skills, but they contribute to creativity. Likewise, if you’re articulate and a good listener, let potential employers know that you’re a confident communicator.

Stay up-to-date with industry trends
Unless you're in the recruitment industry, there's a good chance your knowledge of emerging job skills required for your industry won't be up to the minute, so start doing your research. Contact recruitment consultants, trawl the internet for articles and job descriptions and flick through industry publications.

Determine what makes you unique
It pays to differentiate between what you have to offer a potential employer and what your competitors can offer. Making a list of your job skills will help you determine your personal point of difference; this will help not only in terms of knowing your own value, but will give your job application that competitive edge.

Aim for a strong skills fit
When you’ve gathered a specific, succinct and clear list of your job skills, the next step is to link the skills you have to the skills your potential employer desires. Understanding exactly what skills the employer is looking for, as well as what they are prepared to offer you in return, will give you a good starting point. Research the company and its professional values to gather further information on how to match a potential employer’s needs.

Create an experience map
For a visual representation of your job skills and strengths, create a MyCareer Head Hunter experience map. The map is interactive and displays your combined professional skills, as well as additional information, such as work samples and notes, when a potential employer clicks on it. For an extra touch of professional credibility, try linking to your experience map on your job application.

Published: 04 June 2008

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