Knowing Your Self


In order to effectively market yourself on the resume, in your cover letter and during the interview, you need to know yourself at a deep level. The first step involves understanding how skills transfer impacts your ability to articulate your skills and knowledge. You will then focus on assessing your own skills and knowledge and turn these assessments into statements on your cover letter and resume.

Skills transfer is the foundation to developing powerful cover letters, resumes, and in preparing for interviews. Skills Transfer involves the ability to extend what you've learned throughout your past activities (for example: work, school, projects, parenting, hobbies, sports) and apply it to new contexts.

Transfer of learning may occur in everything you do in your life as prior learning is constantly being transferred towards the development of new skills and knowledge. Transfer of learning is the impact of prior skills and knowledge on performance in new contexts. Transfer of learning explains how you become familiar with routine patterns, learn to distinguish regular situations, and are able to select appropriate processes for accomplishing our goals.   

As a student you possess many potentially transferable skills, however, research shows that you may not always effectively transfer these skills to your advantage in new situations unless you actively think about them. To optimize your potential for skills transfer, you need to pay attention to how all your experiences can translate into future opportunities.  

In order to do this, you need to understand some of the underlying terms, such as skills and tasks and how they relate to transfer. 

Tasks are activities or artifacts (pieces of work) that are completed for defined purposes in specific environments or contexts. Tasks are embedded in the context in which they are learned and practiced. As such, tasks are not generally transferable as a whole because the knowledge that goes into the task is largely contextualized and reduces the likelihood for transfer. 

Tasks require a skill or a cluster of skills. The Oxford Dictionary defines a skill as having "developed expertness, practiced ability, and facility in an action." A skill is a learned ability to do something well.

For example, a skill is often more transferable than the task. That is why it is important to understand the difference between skills and tasks and know which tend to transfer more easily.

How this applies to you! Knowledge about transfer is vital for effectively communicating your skills. A better understanding of "what you know" and "how you can use it in new contexts" is a significant element when preparing your cover letter and resume, as well as to performing well during interviews.

Self-assessment is the first step in any planning. To conduct self-assessment, you need to ask yourself: What are my interests, skills, accomplishments, personal attributes (what you are good at), and values (what’s important to you)? 

The purpose of the self-assessment is to help you know yourself at a deeper level and to be able to communicate this information with others. This is important for managing your learning as well as:

  • guiding your personal and career goals,
  • deciding on a Work-Study position,
  • helping to select or create positions and working environment that best match what you need and care about, and
  • understanding the kinds of people and problems you enjoy associating and working with.

The information you gain from a self-assessment is a critical base for enhancing your cover letters, resumes, and for interview preparation. You will need to know and be able to talk about yourself as you develop your confidence in building strong communication tools. 

Let's begin the process of self-assessment by identifying your skills, knowledge, and accomplishments. 

Many people think they know what they are good at but sometimes have difficulty in comfortably communicating their capability and self-knowledge. Under the pressure of an interview, when asked to describe how your skills might be useful to a potential supervisor or employer, you are challenged to answer questions that you may not have considered or articulated before. 

As such, it is often the case that you may not showcase your talents effectively. Sometimes too, it is very difficult for some people to talk about themselves in positive terms for fear of sounding arrogant. To overcome this challenge and to assist your resume development and interview preparation, review the list of transferable skills and: 

  1. Make note of the skills you have used or developed through your past experiences (note the skill and the context through which it was developed for example; teamwork skills from playing varsity soccer and working on the yearbook committee).
  2. Make a list of the skills that you enjoy using the most.
  3. List your top ten transferable skills.
  4. Think about other contexts that you might be able to use your skills in. 

Now that you have some self-awareness, you may have some ideas about what type of Work-Study experience you would like to have, for example:

  • what do you want to learn about yourself,
  • what skills would you like to develop or grow,  or
  • what new knowledge would you like to acquire.  

Be sure to reflect on your strengths and what you want to contribute to your Work-Study opportunity.