Job Search Step 2: Identify Your Skills

Many of us have the skills we need to successfully perform well in our ideal job. Unfortunately, an equal number of us find it extremely difficult to effectively describe those skills in a resume, cover letter, or to prove to an interviewer that we can do the job.

In other words, we fail in an interview to confidentially or effectively answer the question:


In step 1 of the job search process, we identified and described our ideal job. In step 2, we will identify the skills necessary for our ideal job.

There are three types or categories of skills:  job-related, self-management and transferable. Job-related skills are the skills needed to do a particular job. For example, a systems analyst needs to know several programming languages to do the job.

Self-management skills are the things that make us good workers. Self-management skills are things like honesty, adaptability, and creativity and often form the basis of other skills.

It is super important to emphasize your self-management skills on your resume and in an interview. Even if the interviewer does not specifically ask you about your self-management skills, you should be prepared to list these skills in your responses to the questions you are asked.

Transferable skills are skills that can be used on more than one job or activity. These may be things that come to us naturally or a part of our personality. Transferable skills often form the basis of other skills.

Transferable skills are accumulated in one position and taken with us when we move on to our next position. Put another way, transferable skills are not job-specific skills but things that become a part of us like:

  • communication skills,
  • research and writing skills,
  • computer and technical intelligence,
  • emotional intelligence, and
  • interpersonal and leadership skills


When looking at a job posting or job lead, you want to identify the skills needed to do that job. Hopefully, they are skills that you already possess or that you can pick up easily and quickly. You will want to emphasize these skills on your resume and quantify them with money saved or statistical data.  At the interview, you should be prepared to give examples of a time when you utilized those skills successfully.

Try this exercise:

First, make a list of the requirements of your ideal position as set forth in the job lead. You can supplement this list at O*NET Online ( O*NET is easy to use and provides a wealth of valuable information. Follow these easy steps to use O*NET:

  1. On the main page, type each name of the career that interests you in the Occupation Search box.
  2. Choose from the list of results and click the job link that is closes to the position you want.
  3. Click the Skills link and you will see a list of the most important and relevant transerable skills for that job.

Second, list your matching experience next to each job requirement.

Third, complete the following sentence — I am confident that I have unique skills, knowledge, and abilities to perform this job because:


If you are unsure about this exercise, begin by finding a position on O*NET that is similar to a job you have now or held previously. List the requirements for the job as defined by O*NET. Then list your matching skills and experience. Now, try this exercise for your ideal job or position and see how you match up or what you need to do to bolster your skills.

Now, get to it . . .



This Blog/Web Site is made available by me, an attorney licensed to practice law in Connecticut. I am not a recruiter, hiring manager, or career agent. Nor am I an expert in any of the areas or issues related to job search activities. I am merely sharing my job search experiences with you. This Blog/Web Site is designed to provide accurate information on the subjects covered but should not be considered professional or legal advice.


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