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Getting Started

Self Assessment

When it comes to job hunting, it is 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 are sabotaging their job-hunting efforts as a result.

A ‘self-assessment’ is an important preparatory step for any graduate job seeker. It is 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 is a healthy and worthwhile activity that will greatly improve your prospects of getting a job (more importantly, the right one) and making sound career decisions.

Even if you already have a good idea of your skills, it is 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 selfawareness

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’ which supports 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 can learn through experience.

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 team work. Consider the capacities 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 is 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. 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.


Self-assessment can be a difficult process, so don’t be surprised if you find it unsettling. It can feel confronting and daunting, especially if it highlights skills you are yet to acquire. Remember that a self-assessment is all about empowering you and is for your benefit.

This article is taken from the 2008 edition of Graduate Careers Australia's employer directory Graduate Opportunities .

© 2008 Graduate Careers Australia