What (do) you do best?

Please stop asking me how the job hunt is going.

With each application, I squeeze myself into the description box while trying to sustain a uniqueness that will earn more than a glance from the reader. I’m left with an overly accomodating version of myself, slightly watered down, and lacking the authenticity I should have.

So what’s a gal to do? Well this particular one (who lives with a deep need to systemize everything) deferred another lukewarm application in favour of this self-tailored discovery process (and fancy infographic, naturally).

In order to discover what I truly want to do, and to what organization I could be a valuable asset, I first need to know, unwaveringly: what I do best.

There are many resources available to help you write a resume or discover your true passions, but how do these relate to each other? Can you articulate the difference between your strengths and skills? Can you explain how your principles help you approach specific situations in comparison with your processes? Can you identify the methods and tools that make you good at what you do? Can you tie all these bits together?

Here is my attempt to work out the answers:


A: THE INHERENT

The things that come naturally to you; what you don’t have to work hard at.

VALUES: WHAT YOU BRING TO EVERYTHING YOU DO

  • beliefs about what is right and wrong
  • beliefs about what works best and what doesn’t
  • what you inherently think (vs what you do)

[Examples: Resourcefulness; Efficiency; Curiosity; Quality over quantity; Empathy; Long-term thinking; Journey over destination; etc.]

STRENGTHS: WHAT YOU ARE NATURALLY GOOD AT

  • your gifts, talents
  • extraordinary abilities
  • what you do innately (vs what you think) — things you would be good at regardless of the field or job you perform (e.g. being comfortable with ambiguity as a wedding planner, or pro athlete)
  • not something you have to work hard at (in fact, you likely have to work really hard NOT to use them)
  • the top 3–5 things people would say if asked why someone should hire you

[Examples: Strategic thinker; Aesthetically-sensitive; Systems thinker; Native French speaker; Risk taker; Analytical; Organized; etc.]

PASSIONS: WHAT YOU ARE NATURALLY ABSORBED BY

  • activities that you lose yourself in
  • areas that you have an insatiable desire to learn more about
  • requires almost no effort or motivation to participate in
  • occasionally boarders on obsessive, and your friends might poke fun at you for it
  • Can be as broad/specific as you like

[Examples: Nature; Fitness; Fashion and Style; Boats; Travel; Tiny Homes; All things Japanese; etc.]

B: THE PRACTICED

This is what your history is made of; the skills you’ve acquired through your experiences, and the experiences that prove that you have these skills.

SKILLS: WHAT YOU ARE CAPABLE OF DOING OR TEACHING

  • cannot be learned quickly; takes a long time to teach
  • the tasks that you would perform in your employee role
  • the items usually found on CV (but often confused with strengths)
  • note: be wary of toxic skills. there are things you might be quite good at, but ultimately drains you of joy and goodwill towards man.

[Examples: Project management; Brand strategy & implementation; Social Media Campaign Development; Copywriting; AutoCAD; Swimming; etc.]

EXPERIENCE: WHAT YOU’VE DONE; ACCOMPLISHED

  • justifies what you claim as the extent of your skills
  • has to be earned, worked, actioned
  • includes projects with metrics that demonstrate results

[Examples: Planned 35 weddings; Maintained a blog with a daily readership of 1500; Delivered 125 babies; Grew social media following for a global footwear brand by 44% over 3 years; etc.]

C: THE TECHNIQUE

These are items that, when added to the two previous sections, make you better at what you do than everyone else. It’s your unique way of doing things that enables your work to stand apart from others, and to which you continue to add.

PRINCIPLES: HOW I APPROACH MY WORK

  • your subject/discipline specific work-style
  • the result of many hours of doing this work
  • how you tackle specific subjects/areas (e.g. leadership, management, fiscal responsibility, etc)

[Examples: Management: create an environment where people come to work so excited, they take two steps at a time; Sales: always tell a good story; Communications: visuals are better than words, etc.]

PROCESSES: HOW I GET THE WORK DONE WELL

  • systems that help you know the next step you should take
  • the broader approaches that guides you through what needs to get done

[Examples: The Design Thinking Process; A writer working from 4–7am everyday; The fashion designer draping a garment first, The ‘Artist’s Way’; etc.]

TOOLS: WHAT YOU USE TO DO IT

  • specific, (nameable) methods, frameworks or tools that you employ to do the work
  • something you designed for yourself, or already exists

[Examples: Moleskines (in grid layout, obviously); Gantt charts; The Google Venture Design Sprint; The Business Model Canvas; Life-Cycle Product Assessments; a specific task management app; or this very framework you’re reading right now!; etc.]

EXPERTISE: WHAT YOU DO BEST

Now to the good stuff! Your expertise is the sum of (a) your natural abilities, (b) what you’ve built, and (c) the way you do it. — This is where you have to dig deep to match what you do best with what you love, and what’s needed out there. It ain’t easy.

  • what makes you different?
  • what would you give lecture a on if given the chance?
  • what do you want your friends and family to say when asked about what you do?
  • what can you bring to your next gig that no one else can?
  • what is your ‘vertical’? (saying you are an expert in PR won’t make you unique, but an expert at PR in the tech industry is someone with valuable insight; what is your specific domain of expertise?)
  • what do you want to be known for? (← M.O.B. most important bullet!)

There you have it. In creating this I’ve successfully managed to (productively?) procrastinate the ‘hunt’ by a few hours. If you’d like to do the same, here is a handy template to play with. (and the full infographic, in high res).