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πŸ““ Identifying Your Skills, Strengths, and Weaknesses

One of the most important pieces of any job search are the practical skills that you bring to the roles you apply for. Every student has a different path that has led them to tech β€” different work experience, different education, different volunteer opportunities, different hobbies, and as an extension of all of these, different skills. Many of the skills you have developed in past experience are relevant to the kinds of roles you’ll be applying to in the tech field, regardless of what background you have.

By understanding and identifying your skills, we can more easily pinpoint which job opportunities align with your experience and expertise. It also allows us to better understand what skills you may be missing and what skills you may want to build to stand out as a candidate for the roles you are most interested in.

Types of Skills​

Transferable Skills​

Transferable skills (sometimes called β€œsoft skills”) are the expertise and abilities that you can use in and transfer across a wide variety of fields, occupations, or industries. While your technical skills are a critical foundation of any career in tech, the transferable skills play an equally important role in your job search.

Some examples of transferable skills include (but are not limited to):

  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Adaptability
  • Teamwork
  • Organization
  • Management
  • Researching
  • Planning
  • Attention to detail

Think of these as a part of your career skill toolkit that you can use to highlight your past experience when applying to a new job, especially if that job is in a new industry.

Technical Skills​

Your technical skills (also referred to as β€œhard skills”) are your industry-specific expertise, and can often be quantified or measured.

Some examples of technical skills include (but are not limited to):

  • Coding languages, frameworks, and platforms (HTML, CSS, C#/.NET, React, JavaScript, Python, SQL, Node.js, etc.)
  • Proficiency in specific programs and tools (Microsoft Excel, Adobe Creative Suite, Firebase, Jira etc.)
  • Git version control
  • Data analysis
  • Database structure
  • Database analysis
  • Testing procedures, methods, and tools
  • Debugging knowledge and tools
  • Project management
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) or other cloud computing services

These skills may come from your education at Epicodus, past work or education experience, or from your independent learning.

SWOT Analysis​

Now that we’ve identified the kinds of skills and qualities that developer roles are looking for [link to lesson] and the technical and non-technical skills you bring with you, we can start to understand how these pieces fit together through SWOT analysis.

Though originally used in business analysis, a personal SWOT analysis is a method of identifying and analyzing our skills.

SWOT stands for:​

Strengths: Strengths are internal factors that give you an edge over your competitors. These are the positive skills, qualifications, experiences, connections, and resources you have available to you as you enter the tech field.

Weaknesses: Weaknesses are internal factors that put you at a disadvantage to your competitors. This could be a missing skill set, lack of access to certain resources, a way that you could improve and grow, etc.

Opportunities: Opportunities are external factors that will come your way in your job search. A networking connection at a company with an open junior developer role, a job fair in your city, or an open course or project that you participate in are all examples of opportunities that you can take advantage of.

Threats. Threats are external factors that may hinder your job search. Job market competition and hiring rates, a shift in preferred technical experience or languages, or hiring freeze are all examples of threats outside of your control that may impact your job search.

Conduct a Personal SWOT Analysis​

As you approach your job search, you can use SWOT analysis to capitalize on your strengths and make the most of them with the opportunities available to you, while also addressing or minimizing your vulnerability to any threats that may arise due to those weaknesses. Let’s complete a personal SWOT analysis to understand where you are right now. Write down your answers as you go, and save this document to refer back to with both your advisor and independently.

Step 1: Identify Your Strengths​

To start, think about your key skills and anything that helps you to stand out as a junior developer.

List out your strengths. You can use these questions to guide you, but don’t let them limit you.

  • What transferable skills do you bring from past work, education, or volunteer experience?
  • What technical skills do you have from Epicodus or other experience?
  • What professional qualifications, certificates, or degrees do you have?
  • Do you have specific or relevant expertise to the types of roles you are interested in?
  • What sets you apart from other candidates in the job search?
  • What do others think are your strengths?
  • Do you have contacts, friends, mentors, or other allies in the industry?

Step 2: Identify Your Weaknesses​

Next, identify your weaknesses. We all have things that we can improve, but without self-reflection, it’s impossible to know what those things are and how we can set a plan to address them. Be open, honest, and realistic here. At the same time, remember that your weaknesses are not permanent, and a growth mindset will enable you to learn, grow, and find unique ways to overcome them.

List out your weaknesses and use these questions as a jumping-off point:

  • Do you have the necessary skills and qualifications for the roles, companies, or parts of the industry that you’re interested in?
  • Do you have any bad habits? (like procrastination, tardiness, poor communication, etc.)
  • What do you want to improve about your work or skills?
  • What do others think are your professional weaknesses?
  • What kinds of tasks or skills do you find most challenging in your professional or educational experience?
  • What skills do you not currently have, but want to learn?

Step 3: Discover Your Opportunities​

Now that we have an idea of your internal strengths and weaknesses, we can focus on the external opportunities available to you. Opportunities come in many different shapes, sizes, and forms, and will look different from person to person β€” and may not even look like an opportunity at first glance! Here are a few questions to get you thinking about potential opportunities, so you can spot one when it crosses your path:

  • What changes or trends are happening in your industry that you can take advantage of?
  • Is there a new or emerging technology, language, or platform you can explore?
  • What connections do you have in the industry? Are you in contact with them?
  • Are there networking events you can take advantage of?
  • What other tech organizations or groups are you a part of?
  • Can acquiring new skills give you a competitive advantage?
  • Is there an open source project you can get involved in?
  • Are you following relevant people and companies you might want to work with on LinkedIn, email, newsletter, or other avenues?

It’s always great when an opportunity aligns closely with your strengths, but some opportunities might arise that don’t directly align with your skill set. Before you disregard them, consider the pros and cons, and see if there are any skills you could gain to better align with the opportunity.

Step 4: Understand Threats​

There will always be external factors that challenge you in your job search and career. Understanding and identifying the threats that you may come up against will allow you to better prepare for them, address them, and eliminate any that you can.

  • Are any of your skills no longer relevant for the current market? How can you update them to better match what employers are looking for?
  • Are there changes to the industry’s hiring rates or job market?
  • Are any of your weaknesses hurting your chances of career advancement? How can you address them proactively?
  • What obstacles prevent you from achieving your goals? How can we use SMART goals [link lesson] effectively to change this?

Career Review​

As a part of your first career review, please complete a personal SWOT analysis using the prompts in this lesson and save it in the same Google Doc you used for your SMART Goals, Career Exploration, and Skill Identification exercises.