Ben holding piece of a puzzleThinking about the technical and soft skills that you have may help you write your resume and identify job openings that are a good fit for you. Today's blog post includes advice on how you can assess your skills and understand how they help you fit into a job.

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Puzzle Pieces: Learn How Your Skills Make You the Right Fit

Oct 11, 2018

Ben holding piece of a puzzleFinding the right job is like putting together a puzzle: You need to find the right place for each piece to see the full picture. As you begin your job search, thinking about your experience and skills may help you find a career path that fits and may help employers recognize how you complement their team of employees.

Whether you are entering the workforce for the first time or re-entering the job market, being able to describe how your skills match an employer's needs can go a long way toward acing an interview and getting the job.

Understanding your full range of skills — both technical and soft — is the first step to getting the job you want.

Understand how you fit: technical skills

Finding the right fit with Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program may help you prepare for jobs. The Ticket program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work.

Under the Ticket program, service providers offer beneficiaries free employment supports. As part of the assessment process, your Ticket program service provider can help you identify how your skills match with the job you want. 

Technical skills are the learned abilities that can be defined and measured and speak to your ability to perform a job. Technical skills would include such things as typing, writing, or ability to use a computer or other equipment to perform job responsibilities. These skills indicate that you have a level of experience that matches the job listing and that you won't need extensive training to perform the tasks required.

But what if your skills need a boost? If you're working with a Ticket program Employment Network (EN) or State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency, they may be able to help you find training opportunities, either online or in your community. They can also help you identify gaps in your experience and skills to help you discuss these gaps with potential employers.

You can use CareerOneStop's Skills Assessment tools to consider your experience, identify your skills and discover jobs and careers that match your abilities. Another good source to help you identify your skills and match them to a career is O-NET. With O-Net, you can also view high-growth industries and browse by job-type to find a possible match for your skills. 

Once you know what you can offer an employer, the next step is to determine if you are a good fit for a particular job or company. Employers often list technical skills within a job listing, for example: must be proficient with Microsoft Word, so you can easily find what abilities are required and determine if your skills make you a good match for the position.

Understand how you fit: soft skills

While employers look for employees who are trained to perform the tasks and use programs or tools needed to do a particular job, they also want to make sure that a candidate will fit with the culture of the business. That's why they look for people with a good mix of technical and soft skills.

Soft skills are the personal characteristics that help you get along well with co-workers or increase your productivity. Soft skills include a variety of personality traits, such as problem-solving, determination and persistence, communication, being a team player, and showing a willingness to take on new challenges.

To identify your soft skills, begin by taking an honest look at yourself and how well you get along with others. Ask yourself a few questions:

Soft skills and career development

Walter knew that he wanted to work on Cornell University’s campus from a young age. Working with a Ticket program EN, he started on the path to reaching his goal by working on a college campus where he learned soft skills, like following policies and showing up for work on time. Eventually, he was offered a different job that fit his skills on the college campus. Once he felt confident with both his training and his soft skills, Walter worked with his EN to reach his goal and start working at Cornell.

Learn more about Walter's full Ticket to Work success story to learn more about his path to work and financial independence.

  • Am I flexible?
  • Do I easily get along with people who may be different from me?
  • Am I a problem solver?
  • How well can I lead others from problem to solution?
  • Do I listen attentively?
  • Do I find it easy to ask for help?
  • How well do I communicate?

Your answers can help you decide if your personal characteristics would mesh well with a company's culture. Your Ticket program EN or State VR agency may help you find opportunities to practice and strengthen your soft skills.

Present the best you

Once you've determined that you have both the technical and soft skills for the job that you want, you have to show the employer that you are the right person for the position. You can do this by including specific information about your skills in your resume, highlighting them in your cover letter and talking about specific times when you've used both types of skills in the past. Thoroughly read the job description to make sure your resume includes the skills that are listed in the description. An interview allows you to present the total you — your skills, experience, and fit. Use the interview as the chance to sell yourself with confidence in who you are and what you have to offer. Be prepared to discuss specifically how your skills apply to the job you are seeking.

Together the resume and the interview are your opportunities for an employer to gain a perspective of the best you. And you always want to put the best you forward. When you do, you are well on your way to clinching a job that can lead to financial independence.

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket program, call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

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