Some days, looking for a new job can be pretty brutal.
How are you supposed to be capable of all these skills? Managing, delegating, working in a team, taking direction, giving feedback, writing, editing, filming, networking, prioritizing, knowing seven softwares and eight social media platforms — it’s too much.
What’s an up-and-comer to do when everyone has a degree, an impressive internship and a Klout score of 74?
You can start to feel pretty down on yourself when your dedicated job hunting has resulted in a big fat zilch, and you’re starting to seriously consider running back to Starbucks with your tail between your legs — or going for a master’s degree.
Fear not. Dollars to doughnuts, you have far more valuable skills at your beck and call than you can think of right now. Skills you may not even know you have. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
These are your invisible skills. Everyone’s got them, but we generally don’t think about them as being important or worth telling anyone about.
Once you learn how to identify your own invisible skills — and, to be sure, it takes practice — you’ll never need to feel like you’re fluffing up your resume ever again. You’ll be filling it with valuable information you can back up with facts and experience.
Most skills share one trait in common
Being good at something doesn’t just mean you’re good at it. It means you’ve got a grasp on all of the components that go into it.
Let’s say for example, you’re a good driver. Being a good driver means:
- You learned how to operate a fairly big and complex piece of machinery.
- You keep in mind a large array of rules and regulations.
- You’re actively aware of your surroundings.
If you lacked one of these skills, you wouldn’t be a good driver, so acknowledging and claiming these skills as your own is perfectly reasonable.
Practice breaking skills down
When you’re trying to teach someone a new skill, the first step is breaking down all the component parts that go into the skill. By doing this, you can identify what needs to be understood first, and what builds upon it.
You can do the same thing by yourself with the skills you already know you possess.
Start with a good long think about what you’re good at. Write them all down so you have a long list of options.
Next to each skill you have, write two to four invisible skills that allow you to accomplish it.
Need a few more examples?
- Baking a cake: following a recipe, planning ahead, paying attention to detail.
- Writing a poem: imagination, writing and editing, abstract thinking.
- Playing hockey: physical fitness, balance and precision, teamwork.
Everyone has these invisible skills because almost everything you do requires bringing together the different abilities and knowledge you have. When you practice breaking down what goes into your top-level skills a couple of things happen:
- You become good at it — it’s a method of analysis that’s also useful and transferable.
- You keep in mind just how many things you actually are good at, and some days we all need that.
Making use of your invisible skills
Not every skill is transferable in every situation. Some jobs don’t care if you can think abstractly or balance well. That’s OK. Not every skill needs to be transferable.
The point is to have a full arsenal of the skills and abilities you possess at the tips of your fingers and ready to go when you do need them.
You can include a useful section on your resume for relevant skills. These are skills not necessarily related to jobs you’ve held in the past, but they draw on the other aspects of your life: your hobbies, your education, your site projects. It’s the perfect place for a few of these invisibles skills you’ve identified.
Choosing which invisible skills to include becomes a matter of reading between the lines of a job ad. What’s the problem they’re trying to solve by hiring someone? What global skills will they value in a team member?
Once you can identify why they need a new hire, and what they value as an organization, you can cherry-pick from your invisible skills to show how talented and insightful you are — a combination that’s hard to resist.
Megan Dougherty (@MeganTwoCents) writes about Paying for Life when you’re creative, educated and broke. If you’re at the very end of your monthly budget and it’s a week until payday, why don’t you check out her list of 20 Ways to Make $30 Tomorrow?