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I conduct qualitative research on my clients. I don’t just try to quantify their skills, although that is important! Quantifying your impact in terms of percent improvement, costs saved, increases in memberships etc. is useful and I argue you should do it as much as possible.

But when the market is saturated, qualitative insight is important too!

I’ve helped academics identify their skills before. It’s those soft skills that count too.

Qualitative research is crucial, rather than solely focusing on quantifying your skills.

For instance, as the membership chair of an international scientific organisation, I increased membership by 40%.

But what was the quality that I brought?

It’s a qualitative study into what your skills bring:

  1. How did I work?
  2. What kind of soft skills did I bring?
  3. What personality characteristics make me effective at my job?

It’s important to consider the soft and hard skills that contributed to this achievement.

So, it’s vital to communicate these <<qualities>> in non-academic CVs or resumes [as they’re called in the US], but also in interviews and networking.

Think of your deep dive into your skills as a qualitative study.

One of my clients discovered she brings a level of empathy that allows her to “insert a caring voice in written client communications”.

Another client said her talent lies in creating unlikely connections with people, seeing the scope for partnerships that accelerate learning and growth.

As Membership Chair, my strategy involved serving – helping develop summary papers on recent journal articles (Featured Manuscript of the Month) for members and allowing graduate student members to contribute to authorship. I loved empowering graduate students to improve their employability. They would get to speak to the professors who authored manuscripts and expanded their networks in the process. This fostered connections, reflecting my own values of building communities. And let’s face it, if you know me, you know I brought a lot of light and colour to the way I worked too: We always went dancing after conferences, showing each other dances from our different countries – Cypriot/ Greek dancing, Latin dancing, and Country/Folk dancing etc.

How do you go about conducting a qualitative study on yourself?

Here are some insightful questions to explore your key qualities to showcase your worth in your CV/resume, interviews, cover letters, or networking events.

Consider these self-reflective questions for clarity.

Firstly, list the achievements you’re most proud of, even if they weren’t recognised by others.

How did you create the conditions for success? What personality traits did you bring and what were your primary objectives?

Could you identify your motivations and innermost drives that led to these accomplishments? Were you brave, compassionate, empathetic, or an excellent communicator? Perhaps you were a go-getter or a positive risk-taker? Or an intentional, considered and reflective strategist?

Next, consider why these achievements were important to you. This may reveal your values and connections with other accomplishments throughout your life.

Finally, think about why an organisation would need someone with your values and qualities. Consider how you, specifically, could deliver their desired outcomes.

Demonstrating that you can meet objectives with a specific quality sets you apart from others and makes you invaluable to potential employers.

The key to articulating one’s skills and qualities is getting creative and sharing them with others to see how they resonate.

Read job descriptions in unrelated industries so you can see how they phrase different soft skills and unique qualities. This process will help you understand the terminologies and how to adapt them to suit your target industry.

There is another very important benefit to expressing how you work. When you are clear that these are the qualities you bring, you ensure those companies/organisations that do not align with them will avoid shortlisting your application. This ultimately protects you from a work environment that does not align with your way of working.

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