How to Identify Job Skills
Before you can start looking for a job, you have to know what your skills and interests are. This will help you focus your job search on those positions that you are likely to get – and those positions that will make you feel happy and fulfilled.
Hard skills tend to be very specific – and they are often the same skills that employers look to when they list the qualifications for a job opening. You obtain these skills through training, education, and on-the-job experience. They are job specific – meaning they apply to only one or two types of jobs. For example, a baker has the hard skill of knowing how to decorate cakes. That skill isn’t really transferrable to, say, plumbing or childcare.
Think about all the jobs and training that you have had in your life – even those that you had in prison. Under each job or training, write a list of the hard skills that you developed during that experience. Your list might look something like this:
- Chose flowers and greenery
- Cared for cut flowers to ensure maximum beauty and longevity
- Arranged table centerpieces and bridal bouquets
- Created corsages
- Pruned trees and shrubs
- Mulched and fertilized gardens
- Mowed lawns
Everything you have done in life – whether it’s taking care of children, keeping house, working in a prison library, or surviving on the street – has required you to develop what are called soft skills. These skills are transferrable to any job, and they kind of describe who you are. You got them from experience and life – not from a school or training program. They are things like being organized or being able to multitask.
For example, it’s obvious that being a mother means you know how to take care of children. That’s a hard skill that will only appeal to employers who are hiring childcare workers. But being a mother also means that you know how to multitask. You know how to prioritize. You can be flexible. You are energetic. Those are soft skills that any employer would be interested in.
Make a list
Now make your own list of “hard skills” (skills that you obtained through education, formal training, and on-the-job training) and “soft skills” (skills that you developed through life and experience). Use action verbs.
When you are done, you will use these lists to look for jobs that match your skills. And once you start applying for jobs, these lists will help you write effective resumes and cover letters.