Allison Cheston, Career Connector


Career Connector Blog

Why You Need to Know What You Are (And How to Find Out)


I had a very gratifying moment with a client the other day. He’s been out of work for a long time—about 9 months—and has been struggling with transitioning from his original career in journalism to something more secure and lucrative for the long term.

After months of applying blindly to advertised jobs and hearing nothing back, he had called me, defeated. Our process included picking apart his experience for clues and focusing on the things he could do to make himself more marketable. As we went through various job descriptions containing his keywords, we came upon a title that resonated with him. It was Web Producer. And he was elated.

Knowing “what you are” is really an exercise in branding. If you know what your brand is, you can easily seek out, and respond to, the right opportunities. If you don’t know what your brand is, you can’t. It’s as simple as that. So how do you get there?

Analyze your keywords

What words do you use to describe yourself and your experience in your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn and Twitter profiles? Is there one overarching term you tend to use, like Producer, Coordinator, Connector, Researcher, Developer, Designer? What is the thing you’re producing, coordinating, etc.?

Understand your transferable skills

Everyone has transferable skills from a very young age. It’s a matter of recognizing those skills and identifying the ways you’ve used them and can use them in the future. Are you a good writer or speaker? Are you quantitative? Are you good at team-building or facilitating? These are all examples of skills that transfer across roles and sectors, so pay attention to them and be sure they are highlighted in your resume.

Search for keywords and skills

The next step is to put these two things together in your searches for job descriptions that fit. For example, are you a “Medical Researcher”, a “Marketing Coordinator”, a “Content Producer”? Read job descriptions until you find several that seem to fit you best. Then declare yourself on your resume, in your cover letter and in all your marketing materials so that employers will quickly understand your capabilities and where you might fit in their organization.