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Job Search Guide: Strategies for Professionals

Chapter Three

Assessing Your Skills, Experiences and Interests

[Assessing Personal Information] [Career Possibilities to Explore] [Professional Assistance]

A successful job search starts with thorough preparation and planning. This is true whether you are beginning your career, seeking reemployment or considering a more satisfying occupation. An important step in this process is to assess your personal characteristics; take a good look at who you are and what you have done. This will require time and effort, but the time you invest will be worthwhile. Self-assessment can help you to decide on a realistic job objective. The information you discover will also be helpful when writing your resume, completing job applications and preparing for job interviews.


Assessing Personal Information

The self-assessment work sheets on the next few pages are provided to help you inventory your skills, knowledge, abilities, interests, accomplishments, values and personal traits as they have been demonstrated in your day-to-day activities at work, school, home and in the community. Make sure you include all your talents. Sometimes people take their biggest positives for granted. Have someone who knows you well review your work sheets to ensure you include all your positives. When completing this work sheet think about "transferables." These are skills and abilities that you can take with you to a new job. They are characteristics you have in which your new employer will be particularly interested. Remember, the employer is going to be looking for how you can benefit his or her organization.

Use the following form to summarize your accomplishments, abilities and personal characteristics.

Work Experience (Use a sheet like this for each position you have held, including military service.)
Supervisor's Name and Title:
Dates of Employment:
Position(s)/Title(s)/Military Rank:
Duties and Responsibilities:
Accomplishments (including awards or commendations):
Skills, Knowledge and Abilities Used (Make sure you include "transferables"):
Duties Liked and Disliked:
Reason for Leaving:
Education and Training
School, College, University:
Dates of Enrollment:
Degree or Certificate:
Career-Related Courses:
Scholastic Honors, Awards and Scholarships:
College Extracurricular Activities:
Other Training: (Include courses sponsored by the military, employers or professional associations, etc.)
Courses, Activities Liked and Disliked:
Skills, Knowledge and Abilities Learned:
Professional Licenses:
Personal Characteristics: (e.g., organizational ability, study habits, social skills, like to work alone or on a team, like or dislike public speaking, detail work.)
Personal Activities
Professional: (association memberships, positions held, committees served on, activities, honors, publications, patents, etc.)
Community: (civic, cultural, religious, political organization memberships, offices or positions held, activities, etc.)
Other: (hobbies, recreational activities and other personal abilities and accomplishments)
Overall Assessment
Take a look at all the work sheets you have completed: Work Experience, Education and Personal Activities. Considering all you have done, list your strengths and positive attributes in each of the areas below.
Skills, Knowledge and Abilities:
Personal Characteristics:
Activities Performed Well:
Activities Liked:


Career Possibilities to Explore

Review your Assessment Sheets. Do the strengths and positive attributes listed suggest possible careers for you? Your choice of a career does not have to be limited to the ones in which you have the most direct education, experience or training. Ask yourself:


Do I want to remain in that field?


Would the strengths I have listed serve in a related field of work?


Would I consider returning to school to learn new job skills which are in demand?


As a recent college graduate, could I translate my strengths into a career?


Is self-employment a possibility?

In answering these questions, carefully consider personal circumstances, your lifestyle, health, family circumstances and financial needs. Keep these factors in mind when making career plans.

Considering everything you know about yourself, try to think of some career possibilities that you could do well and would enjoy.

List these career possibilities below:







You may obtain additional information about careers from a number of useful publications. Three examples, published by the Department of Labor, are listed below:


Occupational Outlook Quarterly (OOQ). The OOQ provides practical job and career information presented in a straightforward manner. The OOQ is described in more detail in Chapter 4 of this Guide, Researching the Job Market.


Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). Designed for career guidance, it presents useful information, including requirements and duties, for a wide variety of jobs..


Career Guide to Industries (CGI). The CGI is a companion to the OOH, and discusses 42 industries accounting for over three out of every four wage and salary jobs to date.


These books are available at your local Division of Employment Services Information office and at many libraries and college career centers.

If you are considering self-employment or buying a franchise, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers loans, training and planning, as well as many useful publications. There are SBA offices in every state. Their toll-free number is 1-800-U ASK SBA. In addition, their Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) provides free training and counseling on how to set up and run a small business.


Professional Assistance

If you would like additional help in planning your career, you may want to turn to public or private career counseling services which are useful for career exploration. They may help to develop comprehensive career plans. You will find them listed in your local telephone directory. These organizations use a variety of tests and instruments to assess your skills, abilities, interests and personality. Types of organizations where you can seek assistance include:

Division of Employment Services Information offices. These offices are located throughout the country. In most states, they provide career counseling services to those who are deciding on a career or thinking about changing careers. Many of these offices also provide interactive computer systems which contain job information. These services are free.


Local schools, community colleges and libraries. These organizations often have career counseling centers which have computerized job and career information systems. Sometimes they offer short courses on conducting a job search and offer counseling at no charge.


College/university guidance centers. If you are graduating from a college or university, consider the services offered by your college guidance center. College guidance centers sometimes offer their services to the public for a fee.


Nonprofit organizations. Such organizations like the YMCA provide career counseling, although fees may be charged on a sliding scale. Check local social service agencies, community vocational services or religious organizations such as Catholic Social Services.


Privately run firms. These firms provide counseling services useful in helping you decide on possible careers. However, they can be expensive and quality varies; before you select one, check with the Better Business Bureau or with friends who have used these services.

Go to Table of Contents, Handling Your Job Loss, Managing Your Personal Resources, Researching the Job Market, Conducting the Job Search, Networking, Writing Resumes and Cover Letters, Employment Interviewing and Employment Testing.

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