Does it feel that your work experience is like a confused mass of different kinds of experience and that it is difficult to highlight your skills or strengths? Identifying your competence and putting it into words is a skill that would indeed be needed when you are applying for a job.

Employers want to know what kinds of seeds of competence applicants have gathered along their career path. When you know what your skills are, you also know what to offer to the employer.

Recall what you have succeeded in doing

Let's start from what you think you have done best. Think about a situation in which you have succeeded in doing something. What was really the best thing about it? The situation may be an experience from work or studies or something related to your hobbies.

Unfortunately, the human mind remembers failures only too well and downplays successes. It is worth actively reminding yourself about successful things because it strengthens your self-esteem and confidence. When you succeed in doing something, you have used your strengths.

Succeeding does not require a top performance

Succeeding does not mean you did something especially big and important, but something that left you with a positive feeling or something that you are proud of. People too often think that succeeding requires a top performance that can only be achieved through extreme struggle. Challenging oneself is fashionable, but it has resulted in a distorted impression that you should always excel yourself.

Succeeding does not always have to be difficult. It is a good idea to try to perceive your own strengths through what comes easily or naturally to you. Easily does not mean that you have underachieved, but that you are good.

Analyse your success and praise yourself

Divide the situation in which you succeeded into parts: 1) what was required for succeeding, 2) what made it possible for you to feel that you had succeeded in that situation? For example, what kind of mood, theme, company, time and place or what kind of working methods and circumstances contributed to your success?

In the end, it is worth thinking about how you could act so that you could have similar experiences also in future. If you know what kind of factors contributed to the feeling of success, you can actively seek successful experiences.

Also remember to praise yourself honestly after you have done something successfully! Value what you do, do not belittle it. You do not have to be perfect.

Talk about succeeding

Talking about the experience of succeeding in doing something makes it easier to analyse the experience. Tell your friend about how you succeeded, record your story or even write down a couple of lines.

Processing the experience by talking about it in your own words helps you concretise what you are interested in and what inspires you. A friend can give you feedback and when you are talking, you may notice that both of you have skills that you have not realised before.

Write down notes about all of your experience and competence

A simple but effective exercise for putting one's competence into words is to write down skills, experiences and successful situations on post-it notes. Take into account that competence is accumulated in all fields of life.

In addition to education and work experience, go through at least the following themes: hobbies, work in organisations, voluntary work, projects, student exchanges, backpacking experiences, additional studies and courses, language skills, IT skills and the topic of your thesis or final assignment. Also, take into account your interaction skills, personality traits and emotional skills.

Use your notes to draw up a mind map, for example. Keep the notes as they will be helpful when you write your job application.

Follow your motivation – it will develop into a strength

Smart employers do not look for employees who can do everything. Today, the emphasis is on the ability to develop. Do not give up if you feel that it is difficult to offer clear a set of strengths when you are applying for a job. In addition to what you have succeeding in doing, think about what you want to learn.

Even if your career path is still short, you will have accumulated a variety of skills. Some of them are tiny seeds that are still developing, while others are already easier for you to see. They are like brilliant stones, matters that you are interested in. Follow the things you are interested in, they may be refined into diamond-solid strengths.

Text: Mari Karjalainen