Whether you’re just starting out in your career or are feeling stuck in your current role, taking inventory of what you bring to the table professionally—known in human resources as “professional assets”—can help propel your career forward.
Understanding your professional assets takes some serious self-reflection. That’s not to say it’s difficult, but it will require a strong commitment and some dedicated time to do the exercise.
Identify: What Are Your Professional Assets?
A successful job candidate is able to identify, develop, and articulate a variety of professional assets that differentiate her or him from other candidates. Having a clear understanding of all the skills and savvy you bring to your professional life is important to effectively building your career and is the starting place for any successful job search.
Develop: Inventory Your Professional Assets
From a career management perspective, inventorying your professional assets is critical to developing a clear and realistic picture of the types of jobs best suited to you. Log your personal details for each of the following assets.
- Education and Training. What formal degrees, certifications, and professional licenses do you have? How are they relevant to your career?
- Experience. Experience includes paid work experience, as well as volunteering, internships, travel, and hobbies. Be comprehensive. You don’t have to list it all on your resume, but be prepared to discuss any and all of it with an employer as needed.
- Personal Attributes. These are the things that make you “you”—personality traits, talents, and strengths. Sometimes these can be difficult to describe or identify. If you struggle with this, ask people you trust to tell you what they think your positive personal attributes are. Also consider reviewing annual performance appraisals and other feedback you’ve received on the job to remember how people describe your work.
- Interests and Values. Interests and values are the intangible qualities that shape who you are, how you like to think, and how you like to work. You probably wouldn’t list out your interests and values in a resume or cover letter, but they should guide your career planning and management. They also help shape your personal brand.
- Skills. These are the things you know how to do well. They fall into three categories:
1. Job-specific skills relate directly to tasks or occupations.
2. Transferable skills are those that can be put to use in different job or industry settings.
3. Self-management skills are personal attributes (see above) that you apply in a work setting.
- Network. If you take the time to make a list of all the people you know from your educational, professional, and personal networks, you might be surprised how many people you can tap for advice and career help. Watch Capella’s Building Your Network tutorials for tips on how to connect with others.
- Career Confidence. Realistically assess your confidence when it comes to setting career goals and acting on career decisions. Ask yourself:
1. Do you set goals and take action on them? Or do you doubt yourself, procrastinate, or fail to follow through?
2. What is your level of competency in your current role?
3. How well do you think you’ll be able to master the new skills required for the role(s) you would like to have?
4. How dedicated are you to career management, and how well do you manage your career?
5. If you feel like you lack confidence in any of these areas, what tools or knowledge would help increase your confidence?
Articulate: Be Prepared to Talk About Your Professional Assets
Talking about your entire collection of professional assets will help your job search or career advancement. Employers are not just interested in your education or what you do in your current job. They want to know about everything you can offer, and they want you to help them understand how you can benefit their organization.
Use the information you captured to update your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. Whether you’re currently searching for a new job or not, keeping these documents up-to-date is great for continued career management.
Not everything will go on you resume or cover letter, though. For example, you don’t need to talk about your career confidence on those documents. Just keep a copy of your worksheet and refer to it before interviews with potential employers or at your yearly review meeting with your current boss.
Knowing what you bring to the table and being able to talk about your professional assets will help propel your career forward, whatever your goals may be.
The Capella Career Center’s mission is to empower students and alumni to proactively manage their careers and make meaningful, and effective, career decisions.