Unpacking the Marketable Skills in Your Work History

1101When writing your work history, it can be difficult to know which jobs to include and how to frame them in the
strongest way possible.  Sometimes it may feel like none of your work history is relevant to the position you are applying for. However, a strong resume uses work history, classes, and projects as a way to tell a story. While at first glance you might feel like there is no way a hiring manager will take you seriously, often times your work history is full of marketable gems that you just need to do a little digging to find. Here are a few tips for unpacking your marketable skills.


  1. Understand the skills necessary for the position

The first step to finding marketable skills in your work history is to understand what skills are necessary for your desired position. The clearer you are on what skills you need, the easier it will be for you to show that you have them on your resume.

  1. Make a list separating hard and soft skills

Got through the job description for your desired position and make a list of all of the hard skills and soft skills the job requires. It is usually easier to determine the hard skills the employer it looking for than the soft skills. Sometimes the employer will list the soft skills they are looking for verbatim like ‘a team player, or ‘reliable.’ Make a note of those, but don’t stop there.

Consider each one of your future duties and imagine in what ways you will have to engage with other people. Will you need to create and maintain timelines (time management skills)? How about coordinate with other team members to make sure all of the pieces of the project get done in the right order (communication skills)? Will you need to keep detailed organized records of the work you do so your teammates can stay updated on your word (team oriented)?

Learn to recognize the unspoken skills needed to excel in your desired position.

  1. Reflect on previous positions

Make a list of your previous positions and what hard and soft skills you used in each. Compare this list with the list of required skills for your desired position.

  1. Unpack the different skill levels

Are there any skills you listed on both the soft and hard skill list? Great! If not, begin thinking about the desired skills in terms of levels.

For example, if the duty listed is lead a team of five, think of that as the ‘expert’ level for the skill ‘leadership.’ Now, take a second to think what the beginner or intermediate level of leadership would look like. Can you find any examples of them in your academic or professional history?

Some things that could pass as the beginning or intermediate level of leadership might be, training a new employee, leading an afterschool program, or organizing an event.

  1. Build a narrative

Once you have unpacked the skills in your work history, decide on the story you would like to tell. Perhaps you want to tell a linear story with a clear focused path, or maybe you want to tell a broader story showing how you continued building your professional skillset but in many different environments. Whatever story you decide to tell, make sure there is a clear universal element tying them together, and build from there.

  1. Use language strategically

Using language strategically doesn’t just mean using strong action verbs and making sure your spelling and grammar are on point. It also means making sure your language builds in intensity to express your increasing skillsets. It means using your language to show your soft skills, instead of just telling us that they are there.

  1. Check for honesty

After working hard to make sure you are representing yourself on paper in the best way possible, make sure your careful framing hasn’t stretched into the realm of dishonesty.

Good luck!

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