What do I have to offer.
Identifying your assets – Make a Check list. Use this check list as a prompt to think about your skills and your achievements (BUT I HAVE NONE- Then think about the positions you had in school or outside of school.)
Is there anything that made your academic or vocational qualifications a “special achievement” e.g. was there a particular difficulty or challenge you had to overcome or was the outcome particularly noteworthy in some respect?
Is there any activity that you undertake as a leisure pursuit or hobby where you have made use of particular skills or achieved success that could be interesting to an employer?
If you had a gap year, what did you do?. If you used it, constructively, to undertake a particular project this could be of relevance. For example, if you took part in a conservation project you might have had to raise sponsorship. How did you go about this?
If you had a previous full time or part time employment, identify you achievements. What did you learn and were you promoted?
Do you undertake any voluntary work or similar? What skills are needed here and what relevance could these have in the workplace?
Think about situations and their outcomes were you have been able to demonstrate the following skills which are rated as important by employers:-
1) Team building skills- being able to work as part of a team or project group to achieve goals
2) Interpersonal skills- being able to work well and effectively with your colleges and clients
3) Communication skills- being able to communicate effectively either through speaking or writing (we may think we are doing this but in many instances it is not happening)
4) Business awareness- being aware of business realities and the need to be think commercially, in a broad sense
5) Self-awareness- being aware of the image you present and how you may need to adapt this according to the situation you find yourself in
6) Motivation- being able to keep yourself focussed on a task or problem and to persevere when things are not going to well.
When you begin to think about what you have to offer, bear in mind that employers are more interested in what you have achieved, rather than what you have been responsible for. You should spend some time thinking back over your current job and previous role, picking out those things that you accomplished. People often find this difficult to start with and most people will be inclined to say they have just done what has been required by the job. Remember though that what is written in a job description and what somebody actually does can be significantly different, and it is what someone does that leads to their contribution and also to the achievements which are their own.
Think back over what you have done and how you have done it. Think in terms of what you have achieved and how these achievements can be expressed in positive results. Think also about the sorts of knowledge and experience that you have used and which, when applied, to the particular result achieved that you had in mind. Try to think in terms of a sequence, what was the background to a particular situation, and what did you decide to do, what did you do actually and what was the result?
Graduates- You may be thinking “but I have not had a full time job before, so what can I say that is relevant? You need to focus your thinking in a slightly different way- think about holiday jobs you have had, what skills have you learnt and how could these be useful?. If you were a member of any club or societies while university, did you play an active part.? What notable successes did you gain or achieve and what role did you personally play?. When you reflect on these activities and then compare some of the skills and personal attributes employers are looking for you will be surprised. For example, the time you directed the student review will have given you skills in organisation, team working: being in the debating society team will have given you experience in planning and giving presentations, for example.
If you have had experience of work, whether part time of full-time, it is important to reflect on how the role you were filling matched up to your expectations. Very often we have expectations that are not achieved. This is because we have assumed something would happen in a particular way and this has not been the case, or there will be times when an organisation has held out expectations of certain things and these have just not transpired. In either event this can have significant impact on your enjoyment of a role and it is important to identify what your expectations are when going forward in order to get the best fit between you and a future organisation.
Try the Career Expectations Survey which will help you to focus in this area and will assist you in thinking about the questions you will want to ask an employing organisation and to decide how important these expectations are in terms of a particular job role that you might be offered. ( To Part 3)