Last updated on 2013-01-23

Knowing Your Competencies

One of the most important things when it comes to job seeking is your ability to explain to employers which skills you have obtained during your education and your former work experience. It is not enough to demonstrate that you have a huge theoretical knowledge within specific areas; you must be able to explain what you are capable of with your educational and work related activities in your bag.  

It's Not Easy

It is not always an easy task to describe what you have learnt from your courses and projects or what you have learnt performing your student job.

Start by looking in your curriculum of your study programme. Here you will find a list of the competencies you have developed while studying your degree.

How to Clarify Your Skills

When you want to find out what skills you have, it is important that you broaden your thinking. It is not just about your academic competencies from your education or your student job. We develop valuable skills in virtually all aspects of our lives, and the art is to uncover all these skills and put them into words in which employers understand.

One way to clarify your skills is simply to make a brainstorm. Group your skills into three groups:

Your personal skills, your professional skills and your general skills:

Picture of competencies triangle.

1. Your Personal Skills

such as being creative, diligent, reliable, enthusiastic, analytic, problem-solving, reflective, systematic, anarchic etc.

2. Your Professional Skills

are usually the easiest skills to put into words, but remember to find concrete examples. If you are a recent graduate without many professional skills, it may be a good exercise to think your educational programme through. What courses did you take? What methods have you learned? Did you use different study methods along the way (group work, special examination forms, field work, etc.)? Write everything up in a list, so you can sort and systematize afterwards.

If you have work experience, you may want to use the same method. For each job you've had, you can ask yourself some questions: Which assignments have you been solving within each function? What working methods and techniques have you used? What subject areas have you learned? Which results have you helped to achieve?

3. Your General Skills

are for example:

• Language skills. What languages do you know? How wide and deep is your knowledge: can you read, write, speak and understand the language, and at what level?

• IT - What programs do you know about, and at what level?

In addition you can have many other general skills. One way to describe the general skills can be to make a list of the activities you do in your spare time. It can be sports, hobbies, membership of associations, policy, board work and so. Try to look at what you are actually doing in regards to these activities. 

The Career Center at The University of Sourthern Denmark has made some videos (only in Danish) about how to clarify your competencies preparing for job seeking – you find inspiration here