May 25, 2018

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Knowing Your Value

It's easy for job hunters to get depressed during their job search.

The steady stream of rejection letters (or out and out deafening silence) from prospective employers leaves job hunters with the feeling that we are worthless. In economic terms, your net worth is your assets minus your liabilities. This tidy sum never reflects your intrinsic worth as a friend or human being.

The same thing happens during the process of selling yourself to hiring managers - it feels like you have no value because no one's buying at the moment. But you are more than a commodity in the labor market, and it is necessary to focus on the many skills you have to offer employers in addition to the hundreds of good qualities you have that make you a valuable person.

Richard Bolles, of What Color Is Your Parachute? Fame, recommends the following exercise: categorize your skills into verbs, nouns, and adjectives.

Skills that can be turned into verbs are your functional skills..

Closely akin to innate skills, they are probably things like planning, mediating, researching, analyzing, calculating, manipulating, etc. You can train to get better at these skills. Employers look for these kinds of skills because they have crossover properties, i.e. they can be transferred from one field to another. For example, a Copywriter for a print newspaper might be able to transfer their writing abilities over to a job in marketing.

Nouns best describe knowledge skills.

Computers, Languages, Geography, Mathematics, Graphic Arts, and Music all describe fields that you might know a great deal about. These subjects are familiar to you because you have previously shown some expertise in them. Generally our school days have prepared us in many of these subject fields, and we know where our strengths and weaknesses are. Internships focus on increasing our pre-existing knowledge base of skills.

Personality trait skills are best described as adjectives.

We use these when describing ourselves to friends; e.g. 'I am manic, creative, methodical, creative, lazy'. You might describe your skills this way - 'I am a methodical planner,'or 'I am an extensive and creative planner.' These adjectives represent your evolving style, and your personality traits modify your functional skills.

By the time you get done with this exercise in reassessing your skills, you'll have a much better feeling about yourself and the number & quality of skills that you have to offer Employers. You have value. The trick is in getting the hiring manager to see how your value will fit into their company in a way that is mutually beneficial.

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