Monday, April 1, 2013

Competency #9: I can clearly explain to employers what I do well and enjoy

I cannot explain my over-two-year-absence from blogging except to say that I've moved many mountains, lived several lives, became my own super hero, aged a chunk, ran more, biked more, lifted more, became more real, came to grips with my limitations, sang more, danced more, feared more, studied more, accepted more, listened to the only person who matters more (!), chilled and relaxed more, and.... became a thoroughly happy coach and survivor on the other end. that we have that out of the way, let's resume--

How about our next competency?  I can clearly explain to employers what I do well and enjoy - Hmmm......

The first step to explaining to others what you do well and enjoy is to take stock of your motivated skills.  Motivated skills are defined as those skills you totally delight in using, and are highly proficient in.  Are your planning and organizing skills those you love to use in a job setting and have a great deal of proficiency in using?

There are three categories of skills employers will want to know about during an interview. 

The first is called strengths-based skills.  Examples of these are the following:
§  What makes a good day for you?
§  What activities come naturally to you?
§  What does success mean to you?
Employers are looking for your natural strengths; what you love to do.

The second category has to do with your job-related skills; your qualifications and accomplishments related to the job you are seeking.
For example, “I can coach and mentor, with significant job placement success. My most recent client was offered a job with four times the salary in his current position.”

The third category has to do with your behavior in certain situations.  These kind of questions asked during an interview have to do with situations you’ve experienced in previous positions and how you handled them.  Past behavior is a great predictor for future behavior, and employers feel this is a great way to find out if you might be a good “fit” in their organization.
For example, “tell me about to time when you encountered conflict in a group.” The best way to approach preparing for these kinds of questions is to use the STAR approach:
§                                                                            S= situation T= task     A= action   R= result
Briefly mention the situation
“My team’s deadline was quickly approaching, and our project was nowhere near completion.”
Then briefly mention the tasks involved
“We needed to write a proposal to develop a new product, and everyone needed to be on board.”
Now state the action you took
“As team leader, I facilitated every meeting, listened to everyone’s concerns and ideas, and worked toward consensus on the best proposal.”
Lastly, briefly talk about the results  
“As a result, we worked through our differences, the proposal was submitted on time, and it was approved!”

Tackling behavioral questions takes a lot of preparation.  Put together 3-5 “power stories” of situations you’ve encountered at work using the STAR formula in order to smoothly explain when asked in an interview situation.
Each story should be able to be told in 2-4 minutes, with the emphasis on your results.

Working with a career coach, you’ll be able to assess your motivated skills, your work-related qualifications and accomplishments, and get assistance crafting your STAR stories.

Everyone has the ability, with coaching, to recognize and articulate what they do well and are passionate about.  Enlist the help of a friendly career coach to work through how you'll explain these skills to employers, focusing intently on how they connect to the job you're hoping to nail.

For additional information about assessing your skills, try some of the assessments and resources at CareerOneStop: