What have you done?
In the September 24th post, Show Confidence: Know your Strengths, I mentioned the importance of knowing your audience to help guide which strengths you highlight. A similar thought process can be applied when crafting stories to talk about your experiences. What experiences and accomplishments are most enlightening for the person with whom you are speaking?
Before you build up a story bank of experiences geared toward your specific interests, take a step back to identify common skills and abilities that many employers or graduate schools seek. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, respondents to the Job Outlook 2014, Spring Update survey indicate that the following are rated highest in what employers seek in new college hires:
These are transferable, liberal arts skills that are not specific to an industry. Before you go any further, think about experiences that may “showcase” your skills in some of the above areas.
Your next step is to determine the qualities most sought in your industry. Professional journals, industry specific associations, networking contacts, or websites such as www.myplan.com are rich with inside knowledge. Match experiences and craft stories that pertain to these abilities.
Finally, look into a specific company’s culture, mission, and needs. You can often determine what experiences will resonate with a particular company based on the language of their “About Us” page or their job postings.
This is a multi-level analysis to determine skills and match experiences that will most directly resonate in a particular situation. Plus, it helps you to build quite an arsenal of stories to have on hand that depict your skills and abilities through your experiences.
~Gwen Miller, associate director, career development