Using Your Results

Your completed list of highly enjoyed skills is a reflection of your own inner wisdom and life experiences. Knowing your skills will help you articulate them to potential employers — and employers are very interested in what you can do and have done. When you find a career that uses the skills you do well, you will enhance your self-esteem and become more confident. Here are some ways to apply what you've learned from this test.

Match Your Skills to a Career

Now that you've identified your best skills, investigate the careers that use them. A good online resource is www.careerinfonet.org, which lets you search through hundreds of careers by the types of skills used in each one. You can then cross-check your choices by salary, education requirements, and the prospects for growth in that area over the next decade. This is particularly useful if you're thinking of becoming a telephone operator, mail clerk, or railroad signal operator. The outlook for those jobs is a nearly 40 percent decline by 2014.

Check that the career list that matches your skills also matches your interests, values, and other qualities. As you complete the tests in this book and fill out the chart on pages 178–179, you will see how all of your career qualities and qualifications coalesce into a profile of you and your career opportunities.

Avoid Burnout

When researching your career options, look for clues that your preferred skills will be supported. Notice that you may have skills that you marked as enjoying very little or not at all. These are your burnout skills. You may be adept at organizing documents into filing systems but hate the thought of spending all of your working days alone in a cubicle. Obviously, you'll want to avoid those career options that focus too much attention on these potential burnout areas.

Discuss Your Skills with Others

Get a second (or third) opinion. Ask some people who know you well to list your best skills. Their answers may surprise you and differ from the list you made yourself. Don't discount these objective opinions. Something like brainstorming may seem so effortless to you that it's more like a game than a work skill, but for those who can't think outside the box, it's an aptitude to be envied.

Talk to people doing the work that interests you and check to see how many of them use the skills you enjoy a great deal. You want to base your decisions on a realistic view of the work, not on a printed description in a want ad or Web site or what you see on a television drama. See the section on informational interviewing in Chapter 12 for some tips.

Work on Those Skills

Create a list of skills you would like to develop. You will find ideas from books; self-administered lessons; evening, online, or adult education classes; seminars; certification programs; workshops; volunteering; or mentoring. Be sure to take advantage of any skill development opportunities offered by your current employer, too.

Build a skills resume. This document is based on what you can do, not on what your responsibilities were in a particular job. It features verbs, not job titles. It's helpful to think of this resume as a marketing tool communicating the skills you offer, not a history of every job you've ever held. Don't be shy. Many people aren't comfortable promoting their own skills; to them, it feels too much like bragging. Well, if you don't toot your own horn, who will?

Practice. If you really want to improve a skill — for example, public speaking — keep at it. Join Toastmasters, give presentations to your local book club, or join an amateur acting company. You may never become the next great motivational speaker, but you will grow more comfortable in front of an audience. You may become pretty good at it. In the world of work, pretty good is something.

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