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Tips For Job Seekers


Everyone has skills. In fact, everyone has hundreds of skills and each one can be related in some way to one or more occupations. Without ever having had a job, without ever having been trained for a job, you are qualified to perform literally hundreds of types of jobs. Even if in today's economy you have seen your job down-sized or eliminated, you have many valuable transferable skills that will be needed in your next job.

Many people, however, are not aware of their skills and, when asked in a job interview about their skills and experience, have little or nothing to say. Some people hesitate to write a résumé because they do not know how to define their vocational and transferable skills.

How can you avoid that situation? How can you tell an employer you have the skills for a particular job when you've never done that job before? To be a successful job hunter, you must be able to tell employers, clearly and in detail, what you can do.

A systematic analysis of your skills should precede any communication with employers. Résumés, job applications, and job interviews will be more effective if you have done a thorough skills analysis first. Get to know yourself by taking a personal inventory. Skills gained from volunteer work, hobbies, education, and other life experiences should be examined in addition to those skills gained from paid work. If you have trouble identifying skills, use the guide that follows to help you get started.

List your jobs, hobbies, and interests. Start by listing every job you have ever held - full-time and part-time jobs, as well as paid and unpaid jobs. List the skills you acquired in each job.

What skills did you acquire as a 12-year-old newspaper carrier? Think about it. You accepted delivery of stock items (newspapers); you planned your route and delivered papers according to the desires of your customers; you collected money, made change, and kept records of cash transactions; and you probably expanded your route by getting new customers. In a limited way, you were a combination stock clerk, delivery and route driver, cashier, bookkeeper, and salesperson.

Next, list all of your hobbies and interests. Do you sew, knit, fix your own car, operate a CB or Ham radio, refinish furniture, plant and tend a garden, build models, raise animals, play computer or video games, paint, coach sports teams, or work as a hospital volunteer? Do you like hunting and fishing, photography, diving, camping and hiking, downhill or cross-country skiing, or motorcycling? Have you ever participated in fund-raising for a group, or in church-related activities? Have you ever led a social group or sold things as part of an activity? Have you recruited members for a group?

Each of those activities can be related to one or more jobs. What does playing video games have to do with work? Well, you gain eye-hand coordination, you reason, and you make quick decisions. Those abilities can be related to a number of different jobs.

Find jobs that match your skills: After you have compiled a list of your past jobs, hobbies, and interests, and have listed several skills you acquired for each one, you should have several pages of information about yourself. Are you surprised at what you see? Take this process one step further and list as many jobs as you can in which you could use one or more of your skills.

Visit your local American Job Center. If you have trouble identifying jobs that match your skills, the staff at the local American Job Center are available to help you. At these centers you may use the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), or the Guide for Occupational Exploration. The staff may also use the Microcomputer Occupational Information System (Micro-OIS) or Occupational Analysis System (OASYS) to help you choose your future work.

Once you have an idea of what you can do, you have to narrow it down to what you want to do. What type of work do you want to be doing in five years? What jobs will lead you to that type of work? Do these jobs pay enough to satisfy your economic needs? Will you enjoy doing these jobs and will you have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the work day? The staff at the American Job Center will provide labor market projections for the jobs that interest you, as well as explain apprenticeship, certification, and licensing programs within Connecticut.

You may also register for work with the American Job Center. Through a computerized job matching service, you may find the perfect job for you. If you are willing to relocate, you may search for work in any area of the United States through CT Job Central, which is available to employers nationwide.


Skills are often described as:
skills necessary to do a particular job such as the ability to use CNC machines or to use power tools or to do federal tax returns. 
basic skills such as reading, writing, and getting to work on time; these skills are often referred to as school-to-work transition skills 
skills that can be used in many different job settings; the ability to speak before a group, to organize and schedule, to research, and to solve problems 

Skills can be listed within the following broad categories:
Human Service
Plant & Animal

Job-Specific Skills - are those skills necessary to do a specific job. For example, if you were to hire someone for a typist position, a necessary skill would be typing. You probably would qualify typing by adding a speed requirement (e.g. 50 wpm). Are there job-specific skills that both a medical doctor and a veterinarian have in common? Yes, both professions require the ability to examine, diagnose and treat disease, dispense medication, perform surgery, etc. The set of skills in both occupations is similar, but the patient is different. However, it is important to remember that some jobs use the same or similar skills, but because of the client, or the environment or industry, the job requirements may be different. The following is a list of some job-specific skills:
operating fork lift
customer service
producing video
repairing products
data entry
preparing working drawings
setting up drill presses
hand-packing goods
desktop publishing
cost accounting
reading blueprints
taking stenography
filling orders from stock
office cleaning
editing copy
analyzing budgets

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Adaptive Skills - may be referred to as school-to-work transition skills or basic skills necessary for acquiring and keeping a job. As we enter the 21st century, the workplace will be more dependent on technology. Not only must people in the workforce know how to read, write, and do math, they must also be able to use computers. The SCANS Report for America 2000 lists the competencies effective workers have as:

"... productively use resources, interpersonal skills, information, systems, and technology. Competence requires a foundation of basic skills (reading, writing, arithmetic and mathematics, speaking and listening); thinking skills (thinking creatively, making decisions, solving problems, seeing things in the mind's eye, knowing how to learn, and reasoning); and personal qualities (individual responsibility, self-esteem, sociability, self-management, and integrity)."

The following list is an example of the kinds of skills termed adaptive:

  • Getting along with fellow employees
  • Professional telephone technique
  • Listening to and following directions
  • Dependability
  • Obeying safety regulations
  • Ability to work independently

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Transferable Skills - are skills that are useful in many job situations. Employers often ask for good communication skills. This includes the adaptive skills of reading and writing, as well as the transferable skills of public speaking, training, writing reports, etc. The following is a list of several transferable skills:

  • Synthesize data and concepts
  • Analyze
  • Make decisions
  • Identify problems and provide solutions
  • Delegate
  • Persuade and lead
  • Plan and organize projects and/or people
  • Assess performance
  • Train others
  • Observe and evaluate things and/or people

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The following identifies job-specific and transferable skills for the previously-identified broad skills categories:

Artistic Skills - work in the entertainment, museum, or publishing industry

Examples: writing fiction, fact, poetry; or editing, painting, sketching, creating computer graphics, drawing, singing, dancing, choreographing, entertaining, playing musical instrument(s), improvising, composing, acting, directing (theater, movie, television, or radio programs)

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Scientific Skills - work with chemicals, rocks, metals, mathematics, movement of the earth and stars, living organisms such as plants and animals; work in medical and research organizations.

Examples: testing, measuring, analyzing, recording data, identifying problems, collecting samples, using lab equipment

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Plant & Animal Skills - work in farming, fishing, forestry, or horticultural businesses
Examples: transplanting seedlings, harvesting crops, operating farm equipment, using hand tools, applying pesticide & fertilizer, planning and scheduling, cultivating, mowing, irrigating.
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Protective Skills - work in law enforcement, fire-fighting, guarding or protecting animals, property, or people
Examples: guarding, reporting, patrolling, inspecting, investigating, searching, monitoring alarms, using equipment (e.g., X-ray, metal detector, or surveillance), traffic controlling, protecting, medical assisting, policing.
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Mechanical Skills - work by applying mechanical principles to practical situations using machines, hand tools, or equipment; printing, custom sewing, fabrication and repair of musical instruments, scientific/medical/technical equipment, project planning and design, construction, mining.
Examples: operating earth-moving equipment, following engineering specifications, reading blueprints/schematics, drafting, repairing marine craft, installing, surveying land, woodworking, installing/repairing air conditioning, repairing automobiles.

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Industrial Skills - work in a manufacturing setting to produce goods
Examples: setting up and operating machines, inspecting, managing inventory, weighing/measuring/sorting objects.
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Business Skills - work in an office setting
Examples: being accurate, paying attention to details, keeping financial records, collecting data, analyzing, interpreting government regulations, using computers, resolving problems.

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Sales Skills - work in retail, wholesale, or outside sales
Examples: keeping accurate records, handling money, quoting prices, working with customers, marketing, handling promotions/trade shows.

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Service Skills - work within the service industry; this may be in the field of hospitality, personal service, recreational service, food service, customer service
Examples: servicing customers, using computers, communicating.

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Human Service Skills - work with people to provide mental, spiritual, social, physical, or vocational services; often requires certification or licensing and education beyond high school.

Examples: counseling, rehabilitating, nursing, providing therapy, performing patient care.

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Leading/Persuading Skills - work in the fields of mathematics and statistics, data processing design, data analysis, educational and library services, sociology and psychology research, law, economics; higher education is often required
Examples: leading, influencing, using computer technology, analyzing text, instructing.

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Physical/Performing Skills - work in athletics, or other performing arts before an audience
Examples: coaching, instructing, umpiring, refereeing, judging, acting, singing, juggling, dancing.

return to skill areas | Tips For Job Seekers

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