No matter who you are reader, you are an expert in some areas, in others you know a little, and in some you don’t know a thing. The same is true for me, and for every other person you’ll meet. We are all well-skilled in some things. I can prove it to you.
Take a woman who grew up supported by her parents, then married young, and because her husband had a good paying job, she raised a child or two, and then her partner passed on, left her or she left him. Imagine what you want, but she has never been employed and now suddenly must find work. I’ve known women in this situation, and when asked about their skills, many reply that they don’t have any. Really? None at all? I disagree.
Oh and the above example? Just to appeal to the male population out there, take a guy who grew up with his parents, married young, the couple had a couple of kids, and then she walked out on him. Male or female, there are people – good people – who for reasons of their own have not had a paying job in their lifetime, who don’t consider themselves as skilled in any real way.
Now humouring me a little more, let’s take a skilled roofer, bank executive, factory worker or bartender. They have specific skills in their areas. Are they necessarily capable therefore of continuing as professionals and at the same time seamlessly sliding into either of the above two situations responsible for raising two children as a single parent? Without help from anyone? Not automatically. Possible yes but guaranteed? No.
They might have to enlist the help of a child care provider, and they may need help getting kids from one activity to another, re-arranging work to accommodate parent-teacher meetings, band practices etc. And when they get home there’s no settling into the easy chair while supper is being made. No, they have dusting, vacuuming, laundry, ironing, dinner preparation, dishes to do, shopping etc. Their skills in their profession don’t make them an expert around the house.
That person who initially claimed they had no skills soon gets envied for the skills they have in managing to run the household. Are these same skills marketable to an employer? They can be if the job you are applying to requires organizational skills, budgeting, time management, memory use, negotiation, energy and hard work. Now I don’t want to be seen to be saying that employers equally value the skills one gets around the house with the skills one acquires in a paid job because that’s not usually the case.
Everyone however has to start somewhere. If you find yourself needing a job at say 36 or 40 years old and you’ve never had one, you need to take stock of what you do have. The skills you have may indeed qualify you for several jobs – assuming you have both a great attitude and can market your skills to the jobs you choose to apply to. But to be fair, don’t think because you’ve run a family, you can run a fortune 500 business.
When you are looking for employment, remember that one of the greatest assets employers look for in the people they consider hiring is their overall attitude. Someone with few skills but a great attitude will often get hired over someone with all the skills required but a poor attitude. Skills are usually easily picked up as long as the person learning the skills is interested and motivated to learn. On the other hand, someone with a chip on their shoulder or an attitude where they think everybody owes them something is a hard person to have working for you.
So start with a positive attitude. Sound enthusiastic and be willing to learn. That willingness to learn is also a skill. You see there are people who will apply to one company having worked in the same field but for other employers. They may think they know it all, have nothing new to learn, and if hired, may bring all their previous habits – good and bad – with them. As someone who hasn’t been employed, you on the other hand have no bad habits to unlearn. Your strength vs. the competition may be you are completely free of these bad work habits and therefore when you are shown what to do, you accept how to do it at face value.
The one liability which is almost universally shared among people looking for their first job is a lack of self-confidence. After all, if you’ve never worked in the past, going through job applications and then finally sitting down to your first interview can be extremely stressful. This is why it’s a good idea – almost essential I’d say – to get the help of a professional who can give you pointers on how to interview well, and this in turn increases your self-confidence, which in turn increases your overall chance of succeeding.
See yourself sitting at interview, and when they say, “Tell me about yourself”, you reply: “Sure I’d be happy to. I’m organized, positive with a great attitude, a quick learner who comes before you with enthusiasm and a desire to do well. I have demonstrated time-management skills, get along with others and will work hard to repay your decision in hiring me.” Could be the start of something great.