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How do I figure out what I am good at ?

I have been trying to write my resume recently. I have been in IT (working in service based currently) for 5 years now and I am planning to switch to something new. Through out my 5 years I have worked as Service Support analyst, Developer and as DBA but now I kinda of conflicted on what should I try for next.

How do I figure out what I am good at ?
Every time I watch people on linkedin and think about it I feel like I haven't had expertise in anything throughout these 5 years, I have always adapted to the role which was presented to me. But now that I have to present what I have done so far and what I need to aim for next I feel very hesitant, confused, conflicted.

Would appreciate any advice.

Top comments (8)

tracygjg profile image
Tracy Gilmore • Edited

Hi, I cannot offer a specific answer to your question but I doubt anyone can. I will, however, offer some questions to ask yourself, which might help you discover the answer.

  1. From your previous experience, was there an activity/task that you enjoyed doing (not the results but the action itself)? Don't consider the technical task but the softer skills.
  2. Do you like solving puzzles?
  3. Are you a stickler for detail?
  4. Do you prefer to work alone or with a small team?
  5. Do you like to be in at the start of a project?
  6. Do you like to be in a project to the very end?
  7. Do you prefer the unique nature of projects or would you prefer to follow a well defined project?

I hope this helps and best of luck.

gilfewster profile image
Gil Fewster

Not much I can add to Tracy’s excellent reply above. What I can say is that I’ve been working in web development for almost 25 years now, and couldn’t have predicted the many twists and turns and shifts of focus my career has taken over the years.

I’ve always just followed my interests, wherever they take me, and focussed on doing the best quality work I can. Being a reliable, conscientious and supportive part of the team will always open doors and opportunities for you, often in the most unexpected ways. He generous with your expertise, respect and learn from the expertise of others, and fully embrace any opportunity to learn something new or hone your skills.

Good luck, and have fun!

gilfewster profile image
Gil Fewster

Actually, a couple of more concrete things I can add:

Every time I watch people on linkedin and think about it I feel like I haven't had expertise in anything throughout these 5 years

LinkedIn is 90% bullshit and posturing. πŸ™‚

Honestly, it's wall-to-wall self promoting, with everybody presenting their most carefully crafted, curated professional persona they can. Comparing your career achievements and professional skills to what people post on Linkedin in is like comparing your day-to-day life with the photos posted by wellness bloggers on Instagram.

But now that I have to present what I have done so far...

Showing examples of previous work is always a challenge for developers. Most of the time, our work is part of a larger team effort and pointing to individual lines of code can be impossible, meaningless or both. Confidentiality and security can also prevent us from showing and sharing large portions of our work.

And, of course, nothing lasts forever... especially on the web. As a front-end developer who works mainly on short-term projects, only the tiniest fraction of my work remains online and unchanged for more than a year or two.

Interviewers for technical roles understand this. Having some samples of work to show is always advantageous, of course, but it doesn't need to be a vast catalogue of applications and websites in current production. It's much easier, and generally quicker, to assess a candidate's technical skills in a conversation than by reading through samples of project code out of context.

My advice for your CV and online profile, focus on your skills, experience and interests. Talk about the specific roles and responsibilities you have held in your most recent jobs and explain how you contribute to the success of your team and your employer.

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄

Every time I watch people on linkedin and think about it I feel like I haven't had expertise in anything throughout these 5 years

What people put on LinkedIn is a bunch of self flatering lies.

Don’t compare your back-of-stage to everyone else’s front-of-stage

cubiclesocial profile image

I recommend watching the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It's not the greatest movie in the world but its main message is not easily forgettable either.

There's an old adage, "Jack of all trades, master of none." The true masters of their craft acknowledge that even they don't know everything about their craft and yet aim to hone it to perfection despite knowing that it is impossible to do so. That said, it's always a good idea to branch out every few years and try something new to get a fresh perspective.

It sounds like you are filling out an annual review (or resume/CV). Figuring out what you've done in the last year or several years is easy: Look through version control (e.g. GitHub issues) and your sent email messages for the highlight reel. You'll probably come up with 50 or so line items worthy of attention that you can either rank or order chronologically or some mix of both. As to what to aim for or do next, that's up to you. I keep a project list of several hundred projects I want to work on. As I get new ideas, they go on the list.

codingjlu profile image

99% of the time, naturally, you're good at what you love to do. You don't have to be good at it initially, but if you truly enjoy doing it, you'll eventually become an expert.
You can start by trying out new things or revisiting old things you've done in the past that you enjoyed. If you find something you like, even if you know next to nothing about it, stick to it, and one day you'll be an expert. Good luck! πŸš€

canro91 profile image
Cesar Aguirre

My two cents:

  1. if you enjoy reading, check "So good they can't ignore you," maybe it gives some light,
  2. check what your personality type is. It will help you to notice some patterns in how you work. Try with 16personalities quiz.
developerdoran profile image
Jake Doran • Edited

A popular way to reflect on oneself in regards to career and professional aspirations is "The Flower" exercise created by Richard N. Bolles.

Image description

The idea is what we enjoy in a job doesn't just boil down to what we are good at, but also things like:

  • who we work with
  • type of environment we work in
  • the values we hold
  • our areas of interest
  • salary requirements
  • where in the world we want to work

However, not all of the petals (or sections) always hold equal weight to the individual filling them in. Some people care more about their values than salary for example, or how they work i.e. remote over in office. So not only complete the petals but also prioritise them in the order that best fits you and your needs.

Moreover, the author also recommends in his famous career book "What Color Is Your Parachute?", not to think in terms of "Who am I?" or "What am I good at?" but rather "I am a person who..." This allows you to be declarative rather than speculative. For example, try and list some points for each of these statements:

  1. I am a person who has had these experiences...
  2. I am a person who is skilled at...
  3. I am a person who knows a lot about...
  4. I am a person who is unique in this way or that...

I hope this helps.