January 11, 2021
Read time : 7 min

Your job search is a combination of:

Learning, Looking, Researching, Reaching Out, Applying Smart, Following-up

Before you look, it’s important to take stock of what you offer, what you want in a job and what you need to learn to get the job you’re after. So, the first steps of a career search are creating a Career Asset Inventory and developing your Career Search Criteria. 

Your Career Asset Inventory is a record of your skills, strengths, values, training and accomplishments. It’s where you take stock of WHAT YOU OFFER. You will draw from this inventory for all of your job search collateral, from your resume and cover letter to interview stories and networking introductions. 

Your Career Search Criteria is a compilation of WHAT YOU WANT IN A JOB and in an ORGANIZATION. You will work with these two documents together to set career development goals and target roles and industries that could be a match for you. 

Career Asset Inventory

Before you fill in your inventory, it’s important to get oriented with the most commonly used framework for talking about what you offer: your skillset. Skills are essentially any knowledge, behavior, personality trait or capability that an employer will pay you to do. Skills are about taking ACTION. 

As you will see when you apply for jobs and network, you will find that your ability to talk and write about your skills in an employer’s language, is critical to getting in the door for an interview. You are going to get better and smarter about the way you describe your skill set, often using the career vocabulary you find in job postings. (You will learn that the language for talking about very similar skills can vary from one industry to another; part of your job as a job seeker is to use that language when talking and writing about your skills.)

Employers focus on three different types of skills:

1.     Job-doing skills– the skills that demonstrate you can perform the daily duties and responsibilities of a specific job. For example, if you’re working on legislation, you need to be able to understand and evaluate laws. If you are developing a website, you need to be able to understand web design

There is another distinction that is frequently mentioned when referring to job-doing skills: hard and soft skills. The distinction here has to do with describing the impact of the skill (which is essential when you are working on your resume and when you are interviewing). Hard skills lend themselves more readily to demonstrating a measurable impact (writing grants that raise $1 million), while soft skills are not easy to quantify (mentoring students to prepare for presentations). 

2.     Values skills– the skills, personality traits and values that show you can work with people and get along. These skills include qualities like thoughtfulness, integrity and having a strong work ethic, and capabilities such as decision making, being supportive, or being a good listener. 

When thinking of values, think about the organization’s culture.  You will find that you are drawn to companies that stand for values that align your values; similarly you will be most comfortable working with others who share a similar work ethic. Examples of core values include: inclusivity, participatory and adaptable.

3.     Transferable skills– these are skills that you do well and can apply to a position even when you are transferring into a new field or industry. These can be hard and soft skills. This category is super important because many skills are not specific to one industry yet they are useful in many roles. Examples include: critical thinking, researching, organizing and teamwork.

Why is articulating your skills so important? Because skills are the muscles you apply to get a job done and to get along with others. Skills are the tools and knowledge you use to make a difference. 

Like muscles, you will develop strengths and areas of expertise. You will also notice that some areas are not as strong nor as easy for you to develop. That’s okay. You have your own unique skill set. 


Laura Paradise is a certified coach trained at the Coaches Training Institute with a degree in MS in Organizational Management. Laura has helped many emerging professionals find great roles. As a former lobbyist, fundraiser and nonprofit manager, Laura cares about helping people do good work. She also knows what it takes to get in the door and ace an interview.