Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Identify your skills and recognize their value

Tell me about yourself.
That is usually one of the first things that an employer will say in an interview. What he/she is really asking is what qualifies you for this position. Your response will set the tone for the rest of the interview, so your best bet is to prepare your answer in advance.

Think of your answer as a 60-second commercial in which you sell yourself. Know the job description for the position you are going for and tailor your comments to match. Your script may vary slightly depending on the position, but the foundation will always be based on your skills.

Assess yourself.
The first step in composing your commercial is self-assessment. To get started, it may help to review your resume. Look at the jobs that you have held and decide what skills you used for each.

Make a list of at least ten of your strengths and skills. Use active words that reflect what you have done. Include both job specific skills, such as your ability to use a computer, and your "soft" skills, such as your ability to organize or your attention to detail.

Evaluate how each of your skills will be useful to the position you are seeking. Decide which seem most relevant. Write them down. These will be the basis of your commercial.

Compose your message.
Now, you are ready to put your commercial together. It will help to write down exactly what you want to say, so that you can practice and be sure not to miss any major points.

Start with a brief introduction of yourself. Include your name and your usual line of work. Then, state what position you are seeking. This part may vary depending on the interview. Next, you will get into your skills. Start with your job skills and work into your "soft" skills.

Sell your experience.
Employers are interested in what you have done. Use action words to tell them. They are clear, concise and direct – all strengths that impress employers in an interview. Strong words include:


Know the value of your skills.
Salary negotiation usually won't be an issue until a job offer has been made. However, it is important that you know the standard pay range for the position you are seeking. Consider where you fit in that range based on your skills. When the time comes to discuss salary, present your case. You may say something like "With the education and experience I bring, I would expect to start at the higher end of that scale."

Remember, your skills and experience are the basis of your negotiations. The employer is not interested in your personal finances or the number of children you are trying to support. It’s not about what you "need", but about what your skills are worth and why.

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