When it comes to job hunting, it’s critically important that you have identified your skills and can clearly and persuasively articulate these skills to prospective employers. Surprisingly large numbers of students and graduates do not have a clear understanding of what they have to offer and sabotage their job-hunting efforts as a result.

A self-assessment is an important preparatory step for any graduate job seeker. It’s a process of actively reflecting on yourself and your experiences to identify core skills, goals, knowledge, attributes and motivations. It may seem like ‘navel-gazing’ but it’s actually a healthy and worthwhile activity that will greatly improve your prospects of getting a job (more importantly, the right job) and making sound career decisions.

Even if you already have a good idea of your skills, it’s worth taking the time to do a focused self-assessment. The benefits of such an exercise include:

  • drawing your attention to previously unrecognised skills
  • improving your job applications and interview performance
  • increasing your confidence and self-awareness.

How to self-assess

  1. Break your life into its various components, such as work, secondary school
    study, university study, sport and personal life.
  2. Look at each area and consider what it involves, taking note of significant
    experiences. Aspects to consider include responsibility, time management, communication skills and teamwork. Consider the capacities you have
    utilised or developed in the different areas.
  3. Think about how these experiences and capacities could be applied to the
    industry and positions you are interested in. It’s important not to discredit
    relevant skills due to modesty or uncertainty.
  4. Write down each skill you can identify and alongside it note how the skill is
    transferable to a workplace.
  5. Become familiar with this list so that you are well versed in the applicability
    of your skills when applying for jobs and attending job interviews.

The evidence

Telling a potential employer you have ‘Skill X’ is not enough. Remember that you have to back up your claims by giving evidence to demonstrate your skills. This evidence can be in the form of concrete examples of achievements or experiences. Part of your self-assessment should involve collecting this ‘material evidence’ to support your claims.

Keep it up

Self-assessment is not a one-off exercise. You should undertake it regularly as your skills and experiences will grow and evolve as you do. The process can serve as a great reminder of where you’ve come from and how much you haved learned through experience.