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< 1. Why should I read this?

> 2. What are my skills and qualities?

> 3. What kind of work can I do?

> 4. What are my goals? How do I acheive them?

2. What are my skills and qualities?

Using all your skills
Even if you've been out of work for some time, you've probably picked up a range of useful skills and experiences which are valued by employers and further education colleges. It's not only paid work that counts when you're applying for a job. All kinds of experiences can develop you as a person and equip you with worthwhile skills. These experiences may be acquired in unpaid or voluntary work as well as social ant leisure activities. For example, perhaps you've been treasurer of your children's playgroup or you visit patients at the local hospital. Or perhaps you pursue a sport which demands strict self-discipline and high levels of personal commitment or you're a competent DIY-er who is used to sourcing value-for-money materials and completing different projects. All these experiences make you a more skilled person and develop personal qualities which strengthen your appeal to employers and colleges. So what kind of skills do you have?

Below is a list of questions which will help you identify your particular skills. Have a look at the questions and tick those you can answer positively. Remember you're no only looking at your work experience when answering these questions. All your life experiences count. If you are unsure about the kind of work you'd like to do, why not underline those skills you particularly enjoy?

Supervisory skills
Have you had to monitor the progress of a particular job or project and been responsible for getting the job back on track? Have you had to control or organise a particular job or project. Did you have to show self-discipline?. Did you have to organise, encourage, motivate or discipline others?

Have you had experience of prioritising tasks. Are you a good time-manager and can you work to deadlines? Can you work without supervision? Can you take difficult decisions? Do you have good judgement.? Do you adapt easily to changing circumstances?

Personal qualities
Do you keep calm in a crisis? Can you cite examples? Do you have stamina and tenacity, leaving the job only when it is completed. Do you have a good memory? Do you have a good sense of humour?

Communication skills
Are you a good listener? Can you speak and write clearly? Are you good at starting and maintaining conversations.) Have you ever had to negotiate a sale, purchase or agreement? Can you discuss issues openly with other people and persuade them of your point of view. Can you always find out the information you need? Are you assertive? Can you ask for help?

Interpersonal skills
Are you good with people with different types of people? Do you find it easy to establish relationships? Can you empathise with other people? Can you work in a team? Have you had any nursing, counselling or teaching experience? Are you approachable and helpful?

Financial skills
Have you had to work out budgets for a particular job or project? Have you priced or costed items at any time. Can you interpret financial information?

Intellectual skills
Do you make decisions quickly and easily? Are you a creative person? Are you a logical person who can reason an argument well? Can you spot good opportunities? Are you a forward planner? Are you able to discriminate or appreciate the differences between different choices and situations?

Below are a list of skills which may be just as useful in the workplace as they are at home. Have a look through them and see how many you can lay claim to.

Using the telephone
Using the library
Following procedures
House cleaning
Craft skills e.g. knitting, carpentry
Time management
Nursing or applying first aid
Handling/manual dexterity
Driving, road sense, parking
Computer skills

Below is another list of skills which you may have acquired in paid or voluntary work or through your social life. How many of these can you tick!

Chairing meetings
Writing reports
Coaching and counselling
Solving problems
Computer literacy
Leading others
Public speaking
Delegating tasks to others
Interpreting budgets
Confronting difficult problems/people
Basic accounting

We've seen in this chapter that it's not only the skills and experiences you acquire in the workplace that are valued when looking for a job or training opportunity. All your life experiences - whether they're acquired in the home, in your sports or leisure activities or working in the community - count for something. Think flexibly and creatively about your skills and try to keep track of the different skills you use routinely in your everyday life.

< 1. Why should I read this?

> 2. What are my skills and qualities?

> 3. What kind of work can I do?

> 4. What are my goals? How do I acheive them?

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