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Knowing your Skills and Competencies

One of the most important things when it comes to your job search, 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 backgrounds.

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 the curriculum of your study programme. Here, you will fidn a list of the competencies hou 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 sklils in virtually all aspects of our lives, and the art is to uncover all these skills and put them into words, which employers can understand.

One way to clarify your sklils is simply to make a brainstorm. Group your skills into three groups: Your personal competencies, your professional competencies and your general competencies.


Exercise: Download "Knowing Your Competencies"

1. Your Personal Competencies E.g. being creative, diligent, reliable, enthusiastic, analytic, problem-solving, reflective, systematic, anarchic etc.
2. Your Professional Competencies

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 exam forms, field work etc.)? Write down everything in a list, so you can sort and systematize if afterwards.

If you have work experience, you may want to use the same method. For each job you have 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 Competencies

E.g. 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?)

E.g. IT: which programs do you know, and at what level?

You can also 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, memberships of associations, politics, board work and so on. Try to look at what you actually do in these activities.


The Career Center at The University of Southern Denmark has made some videos (only in Danish) about how to clarify your competencies when preparing for your job search - you can find inspiration here.