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Skills with People (Worksheet 3.3)

An effective way to identify all your skills is to look for them from different perspectives. In the previous two exercises, you looked at your skills with tangibles and intangibles. In this exercise, you will be looking at your skills with people.

During the years when I was Managing Director of my executive search firm, we always asked candidates what they thought were their strongest skills. Invariably, one of their key skills was always “people skills.” When we asked them to describe their people skills, that was when they became vague and equivocal as they attempted to find words that would satisfactorily answer our question.

I guarantee you will be asked this question by interviewers. You can easily answer it if you start by describing who are the people you think you have skills with (sorry English majors) and then describe the skills you have with them.

For example, suppose you are in a C-Level position where you have responsibility for several divisions or subsidiaries and you are transitioning because your employer wants you to relocate to Buffalo, New York and you’ve grown up in Southern California. You’ve determined that your family has no desire to move to Buffalo and, consequently, you’ve decided to resign.

One of the skills a new employer would expect you to have would be your ability to lead the managers of the divisions and subsidiaries which report to you. The skill you would need to demonstrate would be your skill at being an effective leader of the senior management teams of the organizations that report to you. The senior management teams, therefore, would be the object of your skill.

Start this exercise by listing the type of people or groups you’ve worked with in the past or that you want to focus on working with in the future. You can use the following examples to help jog your memory:

board directors
departmental staff
ethnic minorities
production workers
healthcare professionals
senior citizens
sports  professionals
substance abusers
university students

Next, think of the action word(s) that best describes what you enjoy doing with the type of people or groups you listed. (You can find a longer list of action words (verbs) in Chapter 3, Figure 3.1 of 12 Steps to a New Career.

Tips:  If you have difficulty coming up with types of people or groups you enjoy working with, ask yourself:

  • What type of person do I like to associate with in a work environment?
  • Who are my friends at work, and what is it about them that causes me to like them?
  • What type of people do I enjoy associating with outside of work?
  • What type of people do I miss when I don’t have contact with them?
  • What type of people do I draw energy from when I deal with them?

Then write down specifically what ­you do with them that triggers the feelings about them that you have.

Download a worksheet you can use to describe your skills with people: Worksheet 3.3 – Skills with People Template.