What are you really good at? How to recognise & develop your skills

In almost any job interview, someone will ask you about your strengths and weaknesses. But how many of us can list what we’re really good at? Spotting your own strengths can be a struggle, but it’s key to finding a career that will make you happy.

Develop your skills

What are your top transferrable skills?

You can’t make a UCAS application without knowing something about transferrable skills. They’re the skills you can apply to many different roles. Things like:

  • problem solving
  • leadership
  • diplomacy
  • time management
  • decision-making

Some you’ll be naturally good at, others you’ll have to work on. But which ones do you really enjoy using?  Maybe you’ve got great organisation skills, developed over years of scheduling homework alongside your million hobbies. But that doesn’t mean you’d love a job scheduling someone else’s calendar.

To find a career that fits you as a person, don’t just think about your skills. Instead, think about which skills match up to your passions.

Analysing your hobbies

It’s time for a bit of self-reflection. To start with, make a list of the things you enjoy doing. Then go through it with an analytical eye. If you’re into golf, ask yourself what attracts you. Is it the competition, the outdoors, the social aspects, the physical exercise – or all of the above? As you move down your list of interests, you’ll start to see some repeating patterns. These can give you an idea of what to look for in a career.

Now refine things a little by matching up each hobby to a list of transferrable skills. If you like golf because of the social aspects, you might enjoy a career that’s heavy on people skills. If you like it because of the competition, you’ll do well in a career that takes ambition and drive.

Getting advice

Outside observers have an advantage when it comes to pinpointing your outstanding qualities. Your tutors can compare you directly to your peers. Your managers from jobs, volunteer roles and internship know how you approach tasks and where you’re especially successful. Ask these people for their honest impressions of your work and your strengths. They can also help you identify areas where you can improve.

So what do you do with all this information?

Once you have a list of your skills and the factors you’d look for in a career, it’s time to consult the experts. Bring your list along to careers fairs so you can discuss it with potential employers. Have it with you when you speak to a careers advisor. With that insight into your character, they can give you better advice.

Expanding your natural skills and interests

Once you’ve formed some ideas about careers that might suit you, it’s time to make yourself into the most desirable candidate possible. A great way to do this is by expanding on your natural interests until they become relevant interests.

So, you like golf because of its social aspects? Join your university society and get involved in organising the socials. Maybe you like juggling because of the challenge of learning something complex? Learn an extra-complex routine to perform as entertainment at an event. Suddenly your interest has gone from a simple hobby to something that looks good on your CV.

And finally…

Don’t forget the hard part – working on the transferrable skills that don’t come naturally to you. Once you’ve recognised the areas to improve, plan some steps to work on each. Get your calendar organised or take a presentation course. Your future self will thank you. 

Next: 10 Things to Help You Kickstart Your Career