We have all heard the truisms of job searching: customize your resume, attach a cover letter, put in keywords, ensure the resume and cover letter don’t exceed the industry-standard page limits—the list goes on.
But before all that, there is a specific step that I advise my clients to take when looking for a new job. This step is the key to ensure that you, the job seeker, are successful in landing the job that is in line with your desires, needs, values, education, skill level and lifestyle.
So, what is that initial step to take?
You need to take pen to paper (or get on your Notes app or laptop) and do a skills and values inventory for yourself. Whether that looks like writing out paragraphs, a chart, thought bubbles, bullet point notes or formal inventory assessment—write it down.
By doing a values inventory, you have an honest assessment of your work experiences, the values that you want in a workplace, your skills and your skills gap.
When you notice your skills gap, it’ll help you realize why you may not be getting your dream job and what you have to do to get there. For example, I want to get into Digital Learning Coordinator roles or managing post-secondary student services programs. I needed a graduate degree, which I’ll be pursuing very soon with a Masters of Education.
You can summarize and contextualize your skills and experiences more easily when you see them in a written format. Once you’ve written it down, you’ll have some key points with which to craft your career narratives. This is important when you have to match your skills and experiences to what the employer is looking for.
Seeing your achievements and the values that you bring can give a sense of optimism, self-confidence and energy. This is especially true when you have been involved in a long job search or are getting back into the job market after some time away (e.g. maternity leave) or have resigned or been laid off from a job.
This is a simple step and one that shouldn’t be seen as a time-intensive burden. This can even be a fun or relaxing doodling and brainstorming experience for you while you go about doing something else with your day.
While I don’t guarantee that you will be able to find the job of your dreams, it should start you off with your job search with self-knowledge, self-regard and self-confidence. And these qualities come through during the interview process.
Also, evaluating your skills and better your chances of getting hired by a company that aligns with your skills and values. This increases your chances of being happy with your job and with your workplace.
So, before you begin job searching, note down your current skills, skills gaps, achievements (both personal and professional), the values you bring and what you value in others.
This article was written by an FGB Contributor.
Ilham is a Post-Secondary Educator by day and a writer by...day, as well. She has a decade of work experience advising post-secondary students. Ilham’s debut children’s picture book, Wonder Walk, came out in 2019, published by Iguana Books. Currently, she is furiously at work completing a novel-length manuscript for an OwnVoices women fiction and query literary agents by this year. Ilham lives with her young family in Toronto, Canada. You can connect with Ilham through her blog here.
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