We were all born with certain distinctive personality traits, attributes and skills: often called inherent traits, they are qualities of our essential character — our essential nature. Then we were raised and influenced — by not only our parents, but also others, from siblings and friends to relatives and neighbours — developed those traits even more and learned others: Those skills and experiences you may not have learned in school, university or in the workplace, but either just have or picked up along the way. Those are the qualities and traits that come together to make you. Those are your innate skills, you are born with, developed, or that have been ingrained into your being so naturally you may take many of them for granted! So it’s time to push the modesty aside, bring them out and show them off a bit. Maybe even bring them to work or make a new career plan.
So I started to write my list of innate skills. What comes natural to you or what were you raised doing? What are your innate skills? What do you bring by being you?
Also important: If you’re in the process of interviewing and hiring candidates for a position, don’t just sit back and wait to hire whomever fits the most keywords in your candidate search! What I call the “social network Like Page approach” to conducting business or hiring candidates may keep your human resources department busy, as you post and wait for people fitting keywords to respond. But it may not get you quality and longevity from your a new hire.
Pay attention to their innate skills and inherent qualities. Some of those keywords — such as specific industry knowledge or computer programs — can be learned, especially by someone with a higher innate skill of knowledge acquisition, polyvalent ability or learning ability. Not just the person who read a recent article on CV writing and knows to add a hot phrase. Grab that candidate who brings those special qualities as their personal and professional foundation for the work they will do with you or your business.
I was inspired to start writing my list of skills that are innate or that I naturally developed during childhood, while thinking back to a recent job interview for the position of “Front Desk Assistant” — assistant receptionist. Besides telephone work in retail sales, I have five years of experience as a receptionist, a position I held while also office manager, administrative assistant and accounting assistant. Since I was moving to another country and wanted an entry level position to support language courses, I didn’t think of this as a step down, but a position to not only support my goals, but one I could do well for the company.
I didn’t get called back for that position, but I didn’t follow up on it, either. A few months later, I’ve noticed that same position is being advertised again, as I already noticed it is every few months or so: a fact that caused me concern and turned me away from reapplying or following up on my candidacy. The interviewer was also fairly glib, sarcastic and didn’t seem to know her position well. Those who would be my coworkers seemed uninspired, something also noted in the local community. Reception is one of the most common aspects of human resources your customers and community directly experiences. Of special note to interviewers: the person you are interviewing for the job is interviewing you, as well. If you find a quality candidate with not only a decent amount of professional experience and hard skills, pay attention to the soft skills and innate skills, too! You still may need to make a good impression on her or him, and interact accordingly.
Even though I didn’t get the position — in large part due to the foreign language requirement that came up, which I would’ve achieved with intensive courses within a month of being hired, but not on day one — I realised that not only do I have over five years of work experience as a receptionist, but an entire childhood of reception experience! My mother was a realtor, and the phone rang at home day in and day out, including Christmas and Easter. I was raised a receptionist, something I just took for granted being able to do! Plus I’m extroverted, love talking to people, highly resilient to stress and easily uses new technologies and computers. As I’m job searching, I’ve realised I have many natural skills, talents and abilities that I take for granted. I’m sure you have them, too!
Back to our list! What are your innate skills? Be honest but brag! Don’t hold back. Start to think about what your natural inclinations are. What you’re drawn to, what you do for fun or adventure, and also — how you do it. In what way do you do what you do, personally or professionally? Maybe you liked to organise your toys more than play with them or always took charge on the playground, showing natural leadership abilities. What makes you—you? It’s part of of who you are, of your unique abilities and the quality of being you. Then write them down, whether by topic, skill or in your own way. And share! I would love to read your list.
To give you some ideas, here is my morning coffee list:
Multitasking: A common and overused word on CV skills, but I am naturally polyvalent. In each job I’ve had, I take on multiple roles and additional duties. I can focus intently on one thing at a time, but I multitask with ease. Also, when I enter a room, I like to look around and notice all that I can, even while doing something else. I was told this is one reason I was stopped and frisked so often while going through airport security. So I force myself not to do this when there.
Cognitive flexibility: I can’t say why, but I noticed I have it when I noticed it’s a challenge for others, who may be best at focusing intently on one thing at a time. So I will just quote José J. Cañas from the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Granada:
Cognitive flexibility is the human ability to adapt the cognitive processing strategies to face new and unexpected conditions in the environment. This definition involves three important concept characteristics. Firstly, Cognitive Flexibility is an ability which could imply a process of learning, that is, it could be acquired with experience. Secondly, Cognitive Flexibility involves the adaptation of cognitive processing strategies. A strategy, in the context of this definition, is a sequence of operations which search through a problem space. Cognitive flexibility, therefore, refers to changes in complex behaviors, and not in discrete responses. Finally, the adaptation will occur to new and unexpected environmental changes after a person has been performing a task for some time.
Reception: I grew up helping my mother as a realtor. I was practically born answering the phone, taking messages and touring homes. I have also developed an interest and eye for interior design and architecture.
Computers skills: I started playing around with programming just for fun as a kid. I don’t program now, but I’m comfortable around technology and adapting to new apps.
Analysis: Maybe because my father was an engineer, I developed some abilities and in analysis, mathematics, curiosity, problem solving, eye for detail, workflow improvement and efficiency, logical thinking, reasoning and analysis.
Communications: A natural writer and poet, enhanced through quality education, plus personal and professional use and development. Communications written as well as spoken and visual, with a natural interest in linguistics. I’ve forced myself not to obsess over punctuation. I’m doing much better now, taking it day by day…😉
Multiculturalism and international travel: I have always been interested in and accepting of different cultures, ethnicities, societal perspectives, religions, countries, regions and languages…with the travel bug. Let’s go somewhere. Plane, train, car, boat or hiking. I go through travel withdrawal!
Conflict management and resolution: I always wanted peace. I didn’t shy away from conflict, as much as I’m open and accepting of discussion, disagreement and the expression of differing opinions. There’s no argument, fight or war, if there’s only one person who considers there’s a fight. Otherwise, it’s a discussion, debate, game, match, meeting, or opportunity for learning, problem solving or idea development.
Creative visualisation, problem solving and idea development: I can naturally visualise and develop concepts and ideas, investigate possibilities and various avenues of analysis and development in problem solving, plus am open to different perspectives.
I also have a developed awareness of spatiality, which comes useful with 3D design applications, such as interior design, merchandising and use of space; and visualising what something would look like from a different physical stance. Also useful with physical applications, such as dance and sports. Very helpful when visualising a tennis court; dancing tango in a crowded room or on a small stage; or simply manoeuvring quickly through a crowded space.
Art and design: Naturally creative supported by personal and professional use and development. Can create concrete images from abstract ideas or to achieve specific goals. I can also look at something, or get an impression, and see it turned into something else, in aspects relating to creative or business applications. Also with the understanding that visuals are not only aesthetic and creative, but can be communicative, as well.
Fashion, style and aesthetic: It’s natural. Something I take so much for granted.
Diet and nutrition: My mother developed numerous allergies, intolerances and sensitivities, many of them to food. So many, that it’s easier to say what she can eat, than what she can’t. I loved going grocery shopping with my parents as a child (I had a better say in what went into the shopping cart). EVERY TIME we bought something, we had to read all of the ingredients, just in case they had changed. This caused me to learn not only what I was eating, but to find out why and how it affected us, learn what the macro- and micronutrients are and what they do for us, understand the nutrition labels, and recognise that food has an effect on our bodies and lifestyle. btw, I’m naturally and genetically prone to be a bit underweight. I don’t diet. I want to gain, but I have to eat A LOT and work out. Yep, I’m one of those people. If I could make a diet pill out of my genes, I would do it.
Fitness, sports and dance: Je ne sais quoi. I move. I feel it; I want to do it. Then I feel better, no matter how hard I pushed myself. Like this feeling: I remember the first time I saw a tennis court and a match was in progress. I was 4 years old in my neighbour’s backyard. Little me standing in the corner, looking at the “big girls” hitting a tiny yellow ball over that HUGE net. I was in awe at the impossibility of it: They have to get it over THAT! I wanted to run up there and do it. I still do.
Growing up with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, I did push myself, more than most. And I loved it. Then I felt better, mentally, emotionally and physically. The more I move, the better I feel. I am now a huge advocate of promoting exercise, fitness, sports or dance as healthy habits and pursuits, either personally or professionally, not only in children but in adults of all ages — especially in those who either believe or are told they cannot or should not, or who have been socially or culturally excluded from participating!
On a side note on the last few topics and weight, while I am genetically prone to be underweight, I also naturally move some part of my body or muscle, even when still — even if it’s just wiggling a toe. I read that you can burn a couple hundred calories per day just by fidgeting! Maybe it’s a habit I developed from growing up with arthritis. One thing I learned from my grandmother after she developed arthritis when she was older, was that the less she moved, the worse her arthritis was. The more she moved and walked, the better she felt. I just realised that I’ve been flexing my toes and metatarsals the whole time I’ve been writing this. Like a little toe dance under the table.
The outdoors: My favourite wifi is the fresh air, and I know right where I love to stand in Mallorca to breathe the most fragrant. It’s my secret and you have to find your special place. I love the sea and the country, swimming or soaking in the salty sea, relaxing on the beach and enjoying the hot sun, hiking in the pouring rain or braving the deep snow (I grew up in Michigan). As a little girl, when I “played house,” I set it up outside in the forest, using large rocks and boulders, branches and tree stumps, and tablecloths made from fallen leaves. I collected frogs, then felt guilty and returned them to their swamp. I think snakes are cute like kittens. I collected nuts for the squirrels. I still love to enjoy the outdoors or work outside.
Spirituality and humanity: They’re innate. I feel them and always try to live them.
Nature is not only around us, but inside us, as well. Cultivate it. The more you use it, the more it grows and the better it gets. Use it and be proud of who you are.
Recognising innate skills in children can better aid educational programs and childhood development: The child casually considered to be attention deficit, have problems with concentration or who is bored easily, may in fact have a high level of cognitive flexibility and multitasking abilities. Another child may be considered slower or less likely to adapt to change or multitask, when in fact he could be exceptional at singular focusing and concentration with amazing attention to details. Finding out is not only beneficial, but can be exciting to discover and appreciate what makes us each unique, special and shine.
The Poetic CV: A creative activity for yourself, a workshop, or for students. Read more: Life Vitae