The job-search process involves many stages, including researching positions, refining your resume and cover letter, interviewing and, ideally, negotiating an offer. Within each stage there are many steps to be taken. Unfortunately, many job-seekers overlook the important step of evaluating their work history to understand how their experience can best translate into the position they are seeking. One reason people might skip this step is because if they find they don’t have the exact work experience requested or their qualifications don’t align perfectly with those stated in the job description, it can feel intimidating.
In a recent article by Monster, career coaches (including Cancer and Careers’ longtime collaborator Julie Jansen) weigh in on just how to overcome the fear of feeling under qualified, and how to showcase your talent and skills as they relate to the work you are looking for. We’ve identified a few steps that are particularly relevant to people who may be job-hunting following a cancer experience.
Zero in on soft skills. Though often overlooked, “soft skills” can be just as important as technical skills. Communication, analytical thinking, and leadership are all examples of skills that may not be listed specifically in a job description but can really inform an employer on your work style and ability to learn and adapt. Additionally, since many survivors are interested in a career change post-cancer, identifying how such existing skills can be expressed in terms of a new role is key.
Ask others for feedback. Regardless of how well you think you know yourself, everyone can learn something about themselves by hearing from others. Asking former managers and coworkers for input on your performance can be a great way to recognize something about yourself and your capabilities that may not have been readily apparent to you. Very often it can shed light on positive attributes that could make you an even better candidate. This can be especially valuable for anyone whose confidence level is low after dealing with a cancer diagnosis.
Check out job postings in your industry. Once you feel you have a handle on what skills you possess, the next step is to understand how they are relevant and transferable to the jobs you’re interested in. Upon identifying these skills, you should compare them to what is listed in job postings and carefully consider how you can apply your skills to each required qualification. Doing so will also help you determine which skills to highlight in your resume and cover letter.
Unsure of how to get started on this process and seeking the advice of an expert? Pose your question to one of our volunteer career coaches via our Ask a Career Coach board. They can help you to formulate an action plan.
Just as important as identifying your applicable professional skills is formatting and highlighting them properly on your resume and in your cover letter. It can be helpful to rework your resume for specific positions — and using Cancer and Careers’ Resume Review Service is a great way to help you fine-tune yours so that it gets you in the door for an interview.
Finally, we all know that the job search isn’t just about identifying a position and writing a cover letter, so take a look at our free Job Search Toolkit for guidance on the entire job-seeking process!