Job search: How to identify your skills

As a teaching fellow and as a student personal tutor, I am in contact with many students during my working days. I receive questions regarding assessments and feedback and students concerned about writing a CV and a cover letter for their placement.

One of the questions that I get asked the most is: how do I know my skills? I understand this question very well because it is something that I keep asking myself every once in a while too. When the last student asked this question again, I thought it would be an interesting post, so here it is. Let me give you some advice on finding out about your skills and how to show them in your CV.

First of all, we need to talk about hard and soft skills.

Hard skills

All the abilities that you learn through practice, working, or study experiences. These are strictly related to the technical aspect of what you work with or what you are studying. Examples of hard skills are ‘writing,’ ‘presentation,’ or ‘analytical skills.’ If you are looking for a food science graduate opportunity or placement, you might want to look into what you have done during the semester.

Have you done laboratory activities? You might have developed analytical skills. 

Have you done some group activities, a presentation, or written an essay-type of assessment? You might have developed presentation and writing skills. 

Soft skills

Those are all the abilities that characterize how you interact with your environment, workspace, and the people you work/study with. Let’s say that this is more related to your personality too. Some examples of soft skills are working autonomously, problem-solving, teamwork, etc…

Have you had any group work or presentations to prepare as an assignment? You might have developed teamwork or leadership skills if you were the team leader of that workgroup.

Did you have to do some laboratory experience or practical, and did you manage to solve issues like analyzing the wrong sample or running short of reagents? You might have developed problem-solving skills.

How do I know what my skills are?

Now that you know the difference between hard and soft skills, a good exercise you might want to do for yourself is map out the activities you have done in the last year while studying (and perhaps working). Think about the assignments, practical and extracurricular activities.

The primary skills we usually develop in our work or study space are related to different fields: communication, planning, research, organizational and analytical skills alongside the so-called ‘people skills,’ see some examples below.

List of possible skills you might have developed, identify which ones resonate with you the most.

Use the skills listed in the above image to answer the following questions. These will help you identify your skills.

  1. Which skills listed in the image do you feel you are developing? 
  2. Choose at least five of them and try to recall the situations where you could have developed them or where you can develop them according to your academic activities.
  3. Is there a common theme between the skills you have selected?

Hopefully, this list will help you understand more about yourself. 
If you are finding it very difficult to highlight skills, have a look at The National Careers Service website where you will find a questionnaire that will help you highlight your skills and attitudes (click HERE).

Write down in the comments your answers. I am very curious to know.

4 thoughts on “Job search: How to identify your skills

  1. Honestly, all of the skills categories you have mentioned resonates with me.
    Through out my studies last year, I have one way or the other done, and developed this.

    Now I can put a face to the name of the skill I have developed 😁.

    This was helpful.


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