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Careers: Identifying Skills I Have That I Hadn't Thought Of Exercise

Brief Description/Purpose

To help job seekers identify the skills they have gathered from their schooling and previous jobs that are applicable to other new positions.


Seat work, group discussion

Age Appropriate

Teens, Adults

Ideal Group Size

Any size, from small to quite large.

Time For Exercise

30 minutes


Job skills, career development

Detailed Instructions If Needed


We all tend to get tunnel vision about the skills we have and usually under-estimate what we know how to do. In this exercise we'll be looking at identifying the skills you have, but really haven't thought about as job relevant.

Ask participants to write down at least TWENTY things they learned or things they know how to do that weren't directly part of their previous education or job responsibilities. Ask them to indicate where or how they learned these things. For example, they might include: 

  • How to defuse two angry people arguing.
  • How to operate and program a basic database
  • How to optimize web sites for search
  • How to write a great sales letter, or convincing letter
  • How to give bad news to someone
  • How to care for children gleaned from baby sitting
  • ....

Remember that we're trying to identify what you've learned in your life experiences that could eventually be applied to a new career or job.

After people have completed the task (don't worry if they don't get twenty), have members report on some of their most surprising skills and how they got them.

As they do so, ask them and other group members to suggest possible careers that make use of those skills.

Additional Information if Available

Summarize the exercise by pointing out that we all have skills that are TRANSFERABLE to jobs even if we haven't done those specific jobs.