The key to success in your job search is demonstrating that your abilities match what the recruiter is looking for. This means that you must first identify what characteristics the recruiter or company values in their employees and then cite examples of those attributes in your experiences. To prepare for your interview, or even before you write your resume, you will benefit greatly by conducting a self-assessment.
A self-assessment is a detailed, thorough analysis of your background, interests, and aspirations. It allows you to determine the key criteria to use in analyzing your potential career options. It helps you understand your talents, skills, and interests.
Autobiographies, personal inventories, and psychological tests are all ways of conducting a self-assessment.
The autobiography is a personal description of noteworthy experiences and thoughts relating to the past. Your future performance can be predicted by past performance. You can write an autobiography topically (writing about themes such as family experiences, professional work activities, and education) or chronologically (describing events in the order they occurred).
Another type of autobiography is a description of your relevant skills, values, and interests.
For example, in paragraph form:
- Describe a time where you took the initiative and saw a job through to completion
- Relate an experience where you set a challenging goal and succeeded in accomplishing it
- Write about a situation where you used your technical knowledge (in a field relating to the interview) to solve a problem and implement a solution
- Describe an instance where you worked with a cross-functional team to achieve a significant result
A personal inventory involves making a checklist of words that best describe your values, interests, and personality. Articulating your skills and characteristics concisely will be valuable in helping a potential employer learn about you. Write down things that demonstrate your ability to: achieve results, set and accomplish goals, communicate and work with people of different backgrounds and interests, take a leadership role, balance competing demands, and prioritize.
Tests are measuring devices that add new bits of information which help develop a clearer picture of you. Examples of psychological tests are:
- Intelligence: Abstract reasoning and capacity for mastering problems.
- Achievement: Extent of knowledge in a given field.
- Aptitude: Potential for acquiring specific types of knowledge.
- Interest: Description of likes, dislikes, and skills.
- Personality: Emotional makeup, stability, and adjustment.
Skills are the tangible part of self-evaluation. Skills can be learned, and the degree of proficiency varies. Most skills can be greatly improved by practice. See the list of skills and examples on the following pages.
Values are feelings relating to facts, things, and people. They help prioritize the factors in our lives, determining the relative importance of things which affect daily life. List your skills, education, past jobs, and people with whom you associate. Write a detailed description of what you like and dislike about each item in these categories. Focus on specific qualities and incidences. On a separate list, make a detailed description of where you spend your time during a typical week. Calculate the percent of time spent in each activity to assess where you spend most of your time. Next, rank your values from one to ten, asking the question, “How important is this value to me?” This will help you see how you make decisions that are important to your career and life.
What are the key decision points in your life regarding education, career, or personal matters? Which of your values were taken into consideration in making that decision? Your attitude toward your work experiences says much about your work ethic and career value structure. Describe both the good and bad experiences that you have had.
Once you have identified your skills and values, determine what you like and dislike doing. Interests are normally shaped by your values. However, interests may change at different stages of your life, while values remain somewhat constant. You can improve your chances for career satisfaction if there is a relationship between your interests and your job. Think of past jobs and classes. Which elements were exciting to you and made you feel most fulfilled?
Analyze your lists and extract recurring themes. From the themes that emerge, think of the implications they have on the type of job that you would enjoy. Pursue those jobs with the confidence that you have a great deal to offer and will in turn be satisfied with the job. For example, if you have always been most content working with people, you will be happiest in a job that provides ample interaction with others.
- Analyze: Examine in detail or separate data, an idea, or an object into its parts
- Budget: Plan or schedule expenses or operating costs against fixed income for a given time period
- Calculate/Compute: Execute simple mathematical operations to determine an exact amount
- Categorize: Organize information or objects into groups or classifications
- Edit: Revise and improve written material for final use
- Evaluate: Assess needs of a situation and/or determine value or quality of concepts or materials
- Manage Records: Collect, classify, and process data using records or a computerized system
- Monitor: Oversee and regulate flow of work assignments or projects
- Observe: Watch closely or be acutely aware of behavior, information, or objects
- Solve Problems: Trace and identify the sources of a problem and provide a solution
- Research/Investigate: Perform a systematic search using observation or compilation of resources
- Brainstorm: Generate new ideas or possibilities.
- Conceptualize: Form new or creative ideas, theories, or processes.
- Demonstrate Foresight: Perceive and anticipate future trends or possibilities.
- Improvise: Act on the spur of the moment, using materials at hand to fill an immediate need.
- Synthesize: Combine separate parts or elements to form a new whole, as in a concept of theory.
- Use Intuition: Rely on insight or hunches beyond the reaches of the senses.
- Remember: Recall to mind facts, faces, or patterns from the past.
- Visualize: Form mental pictures or images. Be receptive to an inner vision.
Creative Expression Skills
- Compose/Author: Create an original musical or literary work.
- Craft: Use manual dexterity and design skills to produce creative objects or products.
- Create Images: Provide artistic expression of an image through sketching, painting, or photography.
- Design: Form a plan in the mind and carry it out into a written form, outline, product, or invention.
- Display: Present ideas in an aesthetically pleasing form (pictures for public display).
- Food Preparation: Plan, cook, and serve food or a meal with nutritional and aesthetic appeal.
- Invent: Originate or devise a new product or process through experimentation.
- Produce Events: Plan, arrange, and carry out artistic display or theatrical events.
- Perform: Express an inner ideal through an artistic or entertaining form as in singing, dancing, acting, or playing an instrument.
- Coordinate: Arrange the proper sequence and logistics for events or activities.
- Make Decisions: Identify and choose an option from among alternatives.
- Delegate: Assign tasks to others in order to achieve desired objectives.
- Determine Policy: Develop guidelines and strategies for carrying out a course of action.
- Initiate: Put an ideal, plan, or task into action without direction.
- Implement/Follow-through: Take necessary action to ensure the completion of a project.
- Plan: Formulate a series of steps to meet goals and objectives.
- Mediate: Settle differences by acting as an intermediary between conflicting parties.
- Negotiate: Bring about a settlement or agreement by bargaining.
- Organize: Pull together elements into an orderly, functional, and structured whole.
- Supervise: Direct the performance of workers and monitor projects.
- Advocate: Represent and support the goals of an organization or cause.
- Take Care of Others: Care about and take action to improve the health or welfare of others.
- Coach: Explain, guide, and encourage individuals to achieve goals.
- Counsel: Listen with objectivity to facilitate client awareness of issues and provide guidance.
- Provide Hospitality: Welcome guests or strangers with warmth and generosity.
- Listen: Focus carefully on a speaker’s verbal and behavioral communication to determine a meaning.
- Train/Instruct: Teach or explain information to others by demonstration or explanation.
- Consult: Provide a high level of expertise in the evaluation of needs and problems to recommend solutions and a plan of action.
- Explain: Communicate information or an idea in a clear and understandable manner.
- Facilitate Groups: Support or ease interaction for the purpose of reaching an agreement.
- Motivate: Stimulate individuals or groups to take action for optimal results.
- Influence/Persuade: Convince others to adopt a belief, change an attitude, or take action.
- Interview: Elicit views or probe for information through verbal questioning.
- Meet the Public: Represent an employer to the public; receive or greet others; demonstrate a product or service to the public.
- Sell: Describe features and benefits of a service or product to match the needs of the potential buyer.
- Speak Before Groups: Deliver a message to an audience with the intent of informing and/or entertaining.
- Serve as Liaison: Act as a connection between people or organizations to enhance communication.
- Promote: Use creative concepts to persuade through media, special events, or involvement.
- Write: Compose written forms of communication demonstrating skill in the use of language, grammar, and punctuation.
- Use Body Coordination: Use body with agility, strength, and stamina as in athletics, dance, or physical labor.
- Build/Construct: Form or create by putting together materials or parts.
- Hand Dexterity: Use hands with skill and precision with objects, tools, and machines.
- Operate Equipment: Control or adjust the operation of mechanical or electronic equipment.
- Repair/Restore: Diagnose and correct the malfunction of equipment.
- Renew objects to original condition.
- Work Outdoors: Protect, optimize use of, or work with nature and the environment, including animal life, land, and natural resources.