Take Flight!Take Flight!JOB SEARCH MANUAL

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Part 4. Know Thyself
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Assessing Your Interests, Aptitudes, Values and Skills

You must realistically assess the skills you have to offer potential employers. After all, you will be trying to sell yourself to employers and the most successful salespersons are the ones who know their products thoroughly. However, it is just as important that you know yourself in order to ensure that you are happy and productive on the job.


Each of us is an individual and each of us has unique skills that set us apart from others. We also have unique interests (likes and dislikes) for various kinds of work. Which of the two chaps below considered his interests and temperaments in choosing a career?


It is also important for each of us to determine which of the many skills we have that we prefer to use in employment. For example, you may be quite able to wash dishes or sweep floors but you may have no intention of earning a living with these skills.

Activity Three - Exploring Interests

Let's explore interests first since they involve our basic character and outlook on life. Go to Worksheet #3 and complete the chart.


While interests show us which jobs we would enjoy, we are not equally suited for all jobs. Aptitudes indicate how easily a person can learn a particular skill. Jobs can be categorized according to four basic aptitudes:

Some jobs require high scores in all aptitudes. Would you trust a brain surgeon who rated low in Eye-Hand Coordination? Most jobs require middle to high scores in one or two areas.

Activity Four - Aptitude Quiz

Answer the questions in Worksheet #4 and then browse the list of occupations in Appendix A that includes Aptitude ratings.

Look back at the occupations you listed for Activity Three (Interests). List those that you are still considering after examining your aptitudes. Feel free to add occupations as well.


Each of us has up to 700 different skills, yet we often approach the job hunt feeling we have little to offer. Skills are categorized in three ways:

Most people can readily identify their work content skills -- or their lack of work content skills. Yet your personal management functional skills are probably the most valuable to potential employers.

 Activity Five - Skill Review

Review the list of skills in Worksheet #5 and complete the instructions.

We will refer to the results of this exercise later when you are preparing your resume and in the next section. The intent is to stimulate your thought processes to discover the many things you can do well.


You may think, "If only I were more like X" or "If only I had the energy of Y." Or you may find yourself making comparisons to some other idealized role model. It is a mistake to try to be like somebody else and blame yourself that you are not. Identify those qualities that are best in yourself and develop them.

Pay attention to your psychology.

Paying attention to your psychology doesn't mean indulging it. Get in touch with your internal barriers. Perhaps you are shy or timid or feel more conservative than innovative. Notice that many of these barriers are simply assumptions that you've made about yourself that don't necessarily have to control your behaviour. Give up negative thought if you can, and try to maintain behaviours consistent with a powerful and responsible character.

 Much of the way we operate comes from the way we have perceived ourselves or what we've heard said about ourselves. Step away from these old ideas. These inhibiting traits get lost as you move forward assuming the best about yourself. Even if you've had a bad record or been arrested or fired, don't let such a circumstance destroy the outward expression and proactive behaviour you need. Admit your mistakes, learn from them, and move on.

What are some of the characteristics you use to describe yourself or that others have used to describe you? Are they real or are they imagined? You may label yourself in a way that controls your thinking. Peel away the labels and you will probably find something far better than the self-diminishing characteristics you've applied to yourself. Don't explain yourself or apologize for what you consider to be a shortcoming. Accentuate the positive.

Activity Six -Personality Profile

Complete the checklist and exercises in Worksheet #6.


 Often our image of ourselves is associated with events in our career or daily life. If someone, even a pet, is told repeatedly that he/she is a failure at something, the belief is instilled and very difficult to expunge.

Similarly, our accomplishments form the basis of our self-confidence, of our good feelings about ourselves. Often these accomplishments allowed our strengths and skills to really shine, so the next activity will focus on peak experiences in our lives.

Activity Seven - Peak Experiences

Go to Worksheet #7 and complete the exercise.


From time to time you may feel trapped by limitations of education and experience. It may seem to you that you really don't know how to do any thing beyond the skills required for your job. This is a common trap, a result of an overemphasis on specific learned skills, routines, tasks, degrees, and so on. By learning to look deeper than your skills and experience to the qualities that you bring to a situation--the creative aspects of your internal strength--you can free yourself from such traps

Personal qualities are as important as learned skills in making your way in the work world.

All too frequently job descriptions or resumes emphasize only the practical and "recognized" skills, courses, and degrees. Deeper than these acquired assets are inherent qualities like persistence, creativity, loyalty. Integrity and the ability to learn and change that make a major difference in performing effectively.

Your personal motivation and deeper qualities can be the base on which
to build a unique and constantly growing variety of skills and capabilities
that will prove highly marketable in a changing and demanding work environment.

Activity Eight - Personal Qualities

Complete Worksheet #8 for an honest appraisal of your strengths.


 In addition to sterling personal qualities, we all have work-related qualities that apply to any job. These can be used in your resume, cover letter, and in interviews, especially two questions that often trip us up, "What are your strengths?" and "What weaknesses need working on?"

Yes, even the willingness to take risks is a work-related performance quality.

Activity Nine - Performance Qualities

Worksheet #9 gives you an opportunity to evaluate these important job-related qualities.


Most jobs include tasks that we enjoy and others that we don't. We looked earlier at broad interests. Now we'll consider more specific job components that will help you further narrow down the ideal job situation.

Activity Ten - The Pleasure Detector

Complete the checklist in Worksheet #10.


Values are feelings that are so important that we cannot long function in an environment that is in opposition. Values include religious beliefs as well as patriotism and other strong loyalties. For many of us, our families demand our greatest loyalty and the biggest conflict in our lives is between career, which is often a source of self-fulfillment, and family which may require more time or attention than we want to give it.

Another conflict involves loyalty to an employer. Today, businesses often violate their employee's loyalty through layoffs and re-structuring. As a result, you may relate to how Nancy feels.

 Nancy decided that 9-to-5 job duty is just not for her. Real life has turned out to be more multifaceted than Nancy expected, and she wants to spend more time with her growing family, in her community, or on her outside interests. Nancy know that her skills are marketable and that it would be no problem to get another job. However, Nancy doesn't want just another job. Nancy want her life to expand to include more home and non-career pursuits. She's anxious to remodel her work agreements and practices.

In today's work world it is possible to shape the job you want in many more dimensions than simply those of title, hours, and compensation.

The diversity of work, aided by technology and rapid changes in job requirements, allows you to select from a variety of work styles. It is possible to work at home, part-time, freelance, or as a consultant and still achieve a satisfying income. By exploring different work styles and opportunities you can tailor your work situations to family needs and personal development objectives.

Let's explore some questions about work styles that will help you decide where your values lie.

Activity Eleven - Work Styles

Complete the exercise in Worksheet #11.


So far in this manual, you've spent a lot of time getting acquainted with yourself. You now have a far better idea of what you need from a job. Obviously, you don't want just any job. Your ideal career may require additional training or experience, but you are starting to define goals and objectives, rather than just falling into whatever comes along. True, you may need income at the present time, but even if you consider your next job as just temporary, it should fit into a larger plan.

It's inefficient not to have a specific job target when you are looking for work. Consider the following situation.

 Two people are looking for work. The first says she is open to "anything that comes along" and applies for just about every job that appears in the want-ads, sending out dozens of resumes and cover letters each week. Even though she gets a lot of rejections, she also gets called in for quite a few interviews each week. Most, however, are for jobs that neither suit nor interest her. She ends each week thinking that she has accomplished a lot and is ready to follow the same pattern the next week.

 The second job seeker follows a different strategy. She targets three specific jobs that she wants to do. She researches which employers in her community can use people for those jobs and focuses her efforts on reaching those employers. She does not get called in for a lot of interviews, but she does have a few quality conversations with potential employers that lead to two job offers.

Working hard to ferret out every job lead is not always the best strategy. A better approach is to target the jobs that will bring you satisfaction and take advantage of your most significant skills and abilities. By focusing your efforts, you will make the best use of your time and, surprisingly, increase your chances of finding meaningful employment quickly.

A good job target is a work direction that combines your personal interests with your skills.

Once you have a clear job target it is possible to expend energy effectively in pursuit of that target. Without a target, a job search can become aimless and its results unsatisfying.

You've already made lists of some jobs you might like. Now you will apply more of what you have learned about yourself and do some additional research. When you have completed the next activity, you will have a specific job target for now as well as some possible future jobs.

Activity Twelve - Targeting a Job

Complete the steps in Worksheet #12.


 We looked at this briefly in examining values. With downsizing and with regular, full-time, full-year employment shrinking, self-employment is becoming a viable option for many. Even if you prefer or need a job at the moment, you may have self-employment as a future target. There are pitfalls and uncertainties, however, so it behooves us to look before we leap.

Activity Thirteen - Creating Your Own Job

Complete the exercises and research in Worksheet #13.


 Now that you have definite job targets, both for the short- and long-term, it is appropriate to take stock of what you have to do to reach those targets. Goal setting is a vital part of planning our lives, otherwise our goals are mere wishes. Most goals require sacrifice, either of time, effort, money, or other priorities in our lives. Also, most can be broken down into component steps. Concentrating on each attainable step is the secret to reaching our goals which can otherwise seem beyond our reach.

Activity Fourteen - Action Planning

Consider what has to be done in relation to either your immediate or future job target(s). Make as many copies of Worksheet #14 as you need and complete them.


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