Strengths & Skills
I ask students and professionals all the time,
“How will an employer or potential collaborator
know your strengths, skills, and who you are,
if YOU don’t even know them?”
Self- reflecting and figuring out your skills and strengths is hard! BUT very important not only
for your resume, but for your cover letter,
interviews, annual review/ promotion
meetings, and networking!
I love teaching about discovering strengths and skills. I have found a way to break it into bite size steps so students and professionals can:
1. Realize the difference between strengths and skills
2. Discover their strengths and skills
3. Validate their skills
4. Communicate and market their skills, strengths, and experiences
If you read through this post and still need help with your resume, cover letter, or interview prep,
contact me at Eloise@eloisedesignco.com for my one-on-one services.
You can also purchase the Strengths & Skills Workbook bundle HERE. I provide you with a list
of skills, definitions for each skill, and walk you through discovering your skills.
STEP 1: Realize the Difference Between Strengths and Skills
Let’s first differentiate strengths and skills. Strengths and Skills do overlap sometimes as they are both things that you like doing and you are often complimented on.
Strengths: Natural characterizes, abilities, or personality traits
Skills: Acquired abilities through education, training, practice, and experience
STEP 2: Discover Your Strengths and Skills
Though it is important to know the difference between strengths and skills, I don't want you to get too wrapped up in differentiating them when you are trying to discover them for yourself. Sometimes clients find it easier to discover/realize their strengths (what comes easily to them) and then translate them into skills.
First, ask yourself, “What STRENGTHS do I naturally possess?”
It may help to ask yourself the following questions:
How do I stand out from others that I work with?
What do co-workers, peers, bosses, teachers, relatives, and friends always compliment me on?
What am I known for?
List out your answers on a sheet of paper or Word document.
Second, I encourage you to take a strength finders test (there are SO many great ones available).
Here is a free one that you can take. www.16personalities.com
If you want a deeper dive - I highly recommend Gallop's Strength Finders Book. It comes with a code to take the assessment online and then read your results in the book.
Third, compile all of your strengths and then discuss them with someone you know.
Get their feedback and perspective.
Now focus on skills.
First, think through the skills you have connected to these strengths.
You may think to yourself, “I am confident in group settings and usually take the lead. Leading comes naturally to me. I have been the leader of group projects, teams, organizations, and at work. Therefore, you would ask yourself - do I have leadership skills?
If you are struggling to connect my strengths with skills, ask your mentors, professors, advisors, or professionals with more experience what skills are connected and what strengths you may have.
Super Hint: type them into your Skills section of your LinkedIn profile and it will suggest skills for you!
Second, ask yourself, “What SKILLS have you acquired through college, work, and involvement experiences?
For Example: Leadership skills from serving as the president of an organization.
When listing your skills, make sure you know the definition of each skills.
For Example: Know the difference between leadership and management skills
Third, discover which skills you have that are required for your industry, experience level, and job. Go to the job and internship postings! They will tell you what they are looking for. Write all the skills and responsibilities down and then ask yourself the following for each one (answer honestly):
1. Do I have this skill?
2. Have I been complimented on this skill?
3. Have I experienced a time using this skill?
4. Do I enjoy this skill or performing this skill?
STEP 3: Validate Your Skills
Anyone can write that they have “Strong organizational skills” or “Experienced in group leadership”. When you list out your skills on your resume, you need to be able to validate them (back them up) with experiences. When you create a SKILLS section on your resume, you are saying “LOOK HERE – this is where I am strongest.” Meaning that it is fair game for an employer to ask you about them in relation to the potential job.
I am about to share with you my BEST trick that helps you validate your skills for your resume while also
preparing you to write a cover letter or preparing for an interview.
Once you have your list of strengths and skills, write them or type them on a piece of paper on the left side. On the right side of the paper, write an experience or experiences that validates each strength or skill you have. If you can’t validate it with a specific experience or story, you may want to remove it.
You are not only checking to make sure you own those strengths and skills but you are making connections in your brain between skills and experiences. When you are in an interview, you are nervous and tend to forget everything you practiced. When you get an unexpected question about how you can perform on the job, go back to your skills and those experiences connected to them. It is easier to tell a story with skills intertwined than to formulate a perfect answer on the spot. Having a set story (experience) will reduce the chances of rambling as well.
STEP 4: Communicate and Market Your Skills, Strengths, and Experiences
Now that you have discovered and validated your skills and strengths, you need to communicate them.
First, add a Skills section to your resume. Break up your skills into Technical (software and technology) Skills and Professional Skills. Don’t just write “Strong organizational skills”. Provide me with specifics. Are you organized in your planning, project management, details?
Be careful using the word “Experienced” unless you have the years required to back that up.
Maybe use phrases like “Exposed to…” or “Gained experienced…” or “Ability to…”.
Second, use your validated skills with experiences in your cover letter, LinkedIn Summary section, portfolios, inquiry emails and interviews.
For more information about writing your Cover Letter, LinkedIn Summary, or preparing for an
interview, check out the workbooks HERE or my one-on-one services HERE.
If you have any questions, email Eloise at email@example.com