What you like doing is often also what interests you, and vice-versa. In order to identify your strengths, take a good look at yourself, your tasks at work, your career, you life: what do you like to do? What do you dislike? Do you remember the last time you felt that feeling of deep satisfaction after creating, building, completing something? What was it about? What skills do you need to do the things you like? These skills are your strengths; they stem from your interests.
I like – watching films
- Socialising/ having a good chat/ talking to people
- Working on/ with computers
- Reading (on my Kindle too)
- Running Brownies
- My voluntary work teaching swimming
- Watching people learn new things, whether it’s the Brownies learning a new skills or a doctor picking up tips for literature searching (or a medical secretary getting to grips with her new USB stick)
- Helping people – it might sound silly, but I feel better knowing I’ve helped someone, whether it’s finding a book on the shelf or getting a buggy up/ down stairs
- when each day is different to yesterday (even if it’s just a bit)
I dislike – days when I don’t see anyone
- The database when it’s playing up
- Monday mornings…
- Monotony in my routines
I’m not sure how helpful this is in picking out strengths, but I agree that doing something (a skill, a task) that you love means that it will easily become a strength. I actually found writing my Library Route quite helpful – in picking out something I loved about each job I found skills building up that I now use everyday working in Libraries, from dealing with people, to improving my telephone skills, to learning about new computer programs, and to promoting stock in the shop – I found a lot of transferable skills that I loved then and continue to use now. Obviously writing a Library Route isn’t for everyone, but just listing tasks and skills for past jobs might highlight things you’d forgotten about. You can also use it to draft a CV.
As part of my CILIP Certification I had to update and annotate my CV, so this is already up to date and fairly detailed too. I like the idea of my CV being up to 4 pages long – I know I can’t send it to potential employers like that, but I know that everything is in there, and in detail, so it makes it a bit easier to edit for an employer; I just need to take out the stuff that’s not relevant (that’s actually easier than it sounds, but it’s a good starting point!)
I’ve been unemployed twice in my Career history (see thing 20 for my Library Route) and one of these was for a significant length of time so I’ve managed to pick up a vast array of tips. They include;
- Print a two sided CV on two separate sheets of paper – it makes it easier for someone to scan as they can lay both sheets out side by side (no flipping back and forth either)
- Have someone proof read your CV – it sound obvious, but it’s better than sending it out with a typo.
- Have a good friend or family member read your CV critically alongside the job description for the job you’re applying for – they might pick up skills and roles you hadn’t thought to include, or had forgotten about, as they can see it from a different angle
- This was covered briefly in the original post – but at an interview, when asked about competency-based questions be specific. Don’t just say ‘I worked in a team at x employer’ say ‘working as a team was important during my work at x shop as our delivery arrived on Friday afternoons and we had to work together to get as much stock out as possible before the weekend’ – it’s a much better way to demonstrate these skills (and shows that you have actually done this!)
- Handwrite the letter of application – it might take a few more drafts, but the extra effort is worth it. It makes your letter stand out from the typed ones and shows you put the extra effort in. (This doesn’t apply if you have very messy handwriting!)
- Read through job descriptions and person specifications for your ideal job – what skills are needed that you don’t have? This will give you a list of areas to work on, so that you can add these skills to your CV, so that when you apply for your ideal job you can make sure you have all the necessary skills.
And one I picked up recently from the Swiss Army Librarian blog:
- When emailing a CV or application form put your name in the subject heading – it’ll make you stand out from the other applications