Networking & Your Personal Skills Inventory

1194812_starting_the_carWe are seeing more first-time job seekers here in the Career Link self-help Career Lab now that late spring and summer jobs are just around the corner. That’s a good thing indeed.

It can be difficult to construct that first resume (or the first one you’ve made in a while). We are here to help you with this, but remember that beyond our own job postings and Facebook posts, there is a largely untapped world of ‘hidden jobs’ (jobs that employers have not advertised) that rely entirely on networking.

Here are the top-eight tips for networking, followed by some handy tips on how you can identify your strengths via a ‘Skills Inventory’. Remember that many jobs (even unpaid tasks and things we take for granted like chores or volunteering) have aspects that could be of use to your future employers.

This information below is based on:

1.   Know yourself: what you do well, and what you like to do. Complete a skills inventory (see below) to help you learn what you have to offer an employer.

2.   Make connections. Think about what kind of job you want, and identify people in your network of friends, family and acquaintences who can help get you closer to your goal. LET PEOPLE KNOW YOU ARE LOOKING FOR WORK.

3.   Think about what you want to say. Before calling an employer, prepare a loose script that you’re comfortable with (but don’t read directly off of this nor memorize it). For example: “Hello, my name is ____________. I understand that your company does _____, and that’s my area of career interest. I was wondering if you had any current job openings.”

4.   Refresh their memory. When contacting acquaintances you haven’t been in contact with for a while, help jog their memory by letting them know who you are and how they know you.

5.   Be yourself. Networking is all about building relationships. Don’t pretend to be someone else; your healthiest and strongest relationships are often the ones where you are completely yourself.

6.   Be humble. Focus on sharing what you have to offer, not bragging.

7.   Manners count. Be polite. People are more likely to do a favour for someone nice and tactful than someone who comes across as pushy.

8.   Follow up, but don’t be annoying. Following up on conversations or opportunities is a good idea. Nagging? Not so much.

1269793_giving_a_handWhat is a ‘Skills inventory’?

Before you try to convince an employer that you’re the person they need to hire, you should identify all the skills you have to offer. It’s a lot harder to talk about your strengths if you don’t know what they are in the first place!

Find your transferable skills

Everything you learn and every skill you have is part of your personal tool kit. You carry these “tools” with you as you move through school and into the job market. When you develop a skill or gain experience in one place and put what you’ve learned to use someplace else, you’re using transferable skills.

Look through the following lists and check off every skill that you think you have.

Key skills – I can:

  • meet deadlines
  • supervise others
  •  solve problems
  • teach others and give clear instructions
  •  manage people
  •  organize and manage projects

Hands-on skills – I can:

  •  assemble kits
  • build or repair things
  •  work well with my hands
  •  drive or operate vehicles
  •  inspect and maintain equipment or vehicles

Data/information skills – I can:

  • make a budget, manage money
  • record facts, classify information by date
  •  analyze data, audit and maintain records
  • check information for accuracy
  •  pay attention to details

Leadership skills – I can:

  •  arrange meetings or social functions
  • be competitive when necessary
  •  make decisions
  •  direct the work of others

People skills – I can:

  • help and care for others
  •  manage conflicts, resolve issues
  •  counsel people
  •  be tactful and diplomatic
  •  interview people

Creative/artistic skills – I can:

  •  write short stories or articles
  •  express myself through music, poetry, or art
  • design posters, draw cartoons and illustrations
  •  use computers to create presentations
  •  design and lay out Web pages

Verbal/communication skills – I can:

  •  clearly express myself
  • talk easily with others
  •  create and talk about new ideas
  •  design presentations
  •  be inventive

glassesFind your hidden skills

You may have some valuable skills that you haven’t thought about including on your résumé. Follow these six steps to identify your hidden skills:

1) List all your previous and current experiences, at work and in other contexts.

When you think about your skills, don’t just consider paid work. You can also draw from extracurricular activities at school, time spent volunteering, and even hobbies.

2) Describe the tasks you completed using action words for each experience.

For example, suppose you worked in a coffee shop. You might describe the tasks you completed like this:

  • I followed recipes, mixed ingredients, set temperatures, baked muffins, and mixed a variety of hot and cold coffee and tea drinks.
  • I worked with complex equipment.
  • I operated a cash register, made change, and balanced the day’s receipts.
  • I worked with others under sometimes busy or stressful situations.

3) Identify the skill(s) required to complete those tasks.

Your list of skills might look something like this:

  • manual skills
  • computer skills
  • financial and number skills
  • teamwork and patience skills

4) List other things you learned to do in that job.

Other things you learned working in the coffee shop include how to:

  • manage your time responsibly and organize your work
  • serve customers in a professional and friendly way
  • display products so people will buy them

5) Identify the skills you gained from the other things you learned.

Your list of skills might look something like this:

  • time management skills
  • customer service and communication skills
  • marketing and promotional skills

6) Build strong sentences by combining the skills you developed with the tasks you completed.

  • I developed marketing and creative skills while designing window displays to attract customers.
  • I developed communication skills while serving customers and working with my co-workers.
  • I developed promotional skills while helping customers decide what to order.
  • I developed financial skills while making change, ordering inventory, and balancing the day’s receipts.

Find your job-related skills

Job-related skills are those that you need for a particular job. An office worker needs computer and keyboarding skills, a mechanic has to understand repairs and how to use tools, and a cashier must be able to make change and use a cash register.

When you’re about to apply for a specific job, review your lists of skills and highlight the ones that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for. Once you have these elements, put them together into a résumé that will work for you.


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