Getting started

Identify your skills and think about the sort of work you want
 
 
MAKE A LIST OF THE SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE YOU CAN OFFER TO A FUTURE EMPLOYER.
This will help you think about the sort of work you can do. Ask three or four people who know you well to help you identify your strengths. Group your skills into categories and practise talking about them, e.g.:
 
Personal skills
   •  motivation – managing yourself and your time
   •  initiative - making decisions, problem solving, having new ideas, making plans and putting
      them into operation
   •  attention to detail, even when working under pressure
 
People skills
   •  team work - working with and getting on with other people
   •  organising other people – colleagues, suppliers
   •  communicating with other people - face to face, by phone, email, etc.
   •  customer service - selling, making suggestions, answering questions, handling complaints 
      and difficult situations, public speaking, negotiating, listening
 
Practical skills 
   •  working with your hands and with equipment, building and repairing things, growing things,
      driving, cleaning
   •  problem solving – overcoming obstacles and finding solutions
   •  high productivity – doing tasks well and on time
 
Vocational and technical skills
   •  work skills and qualifications
   •  managing equipment, stock, money, etc.
   •  office skills - typing, using a fax machine, organising files, answering telephones, taking
      notes, inputting data
   •  computer and IT skills - word processing, spreadsheets, databases, desk top publishing,
      using email, Internet searching
 
Always keep a record of your work experience, including new responsibilities, new skills learned and any other achievements. This will help you when writing your CV, preparing for an interview, or seeking help and advice.
 
Perhaps you have not had a job yet, have few or no qualifications, or it’s been a while since you were in paid work? Think about the many skills you use in your daily life which you will be able to use when you get a job. These are called transferable skills. They can have been gained through responsibilities in the home, to family and friends, voluntary work, and so on. Parents will have learned valuable skills while bringing up children and running the home, such as time-management and prioritizing, budgeting, managing conflict, and keeping calm under pressure.
 
Every time you complete a specific project or carry out a complicated or challenging task, make  some notes. Think about what made the task difficult, what you did to make it successful and the impact your work had.
  
The more detailed your notes are, the easier it will be to turn them into success stories to talk about in an interview. 
 
Use the STAR system when telling your success stories. First, describe the Situation that you were in and the Tasks that you needed to undertake. Set the scene, say what needed to be done, and why. Then describe the Actions you took - what you did and the skills you used to do it. These need to be skills that are on the employer’s ‘wish list’, as described in the job description. Finally, end your story by talking about the Results. What did you achieve? How did you improve the situation? In what ways did it help the company or organisation? How were they measured? What did you learn? What would you do differently next time?
 
Practice talking about your skills and telling your success stories out loud rather than in your head. 
 
These Skills Health Check Tools can help you to find out about your skills and abilities. 
 
WHAT SORT OF JOB ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? 
Your list of skills and experience will help you to think about the sort of work you could do. The following websites can help you find out about different jobs and what they involve, and the skills and qualifications they require. The services listed on our page on Information, advice and guidance can also help you.
 
Job profiles (National Careers Service)
Profiles on almost 800 different jobs, giving you the essential information you need on what the job involves and how to get into it.
 
Sector Skills Councils
The Sector Skills Councils produce a wide range of information about the industries they represent.
 
Career Player
Graduate employer directory and careers videos on a range of occupational sectors.

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