What are your strong points?

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I just got laid off and my company connected me with a career transition company. I think I'm in good shape, but should I still accept the offer? Élaine Varelas explains
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A reader worries about his weaknesses

Ask the Job Doc. boston.com

Q: I am applying for a position in a new company This new company is a competitor of my employer. Many of my colleagues know my strengths and weaknesses. I am very meticulous and concerned about deadlines. I like to do calculations and generally my contributions receive favorable comments. I’m good with pivot tables and macros. What I don’t know how to do is present data. Standing in front of a large group and presenting a deck intimidates me. I also seem to struggle with the pacing of the slides and am not an engaging public speaker. My current team understands this, so someone else volunteers to present the data if needed. I am sometimes asked to explain the data, and that is fine. If I apply for a new position, how can this weakness be explained?

A: Welcome to the human race! We all have strengths and weaknesses. Your skills are in demand. It sounds like you have the ability to create complex spreadsheets, process and analyze data, and then use that data in meaningful ways for your employer. Although you won’t specify your actual role or what your employer does, these skills are highly transferable. Many of us associate advanced Excel skills with accounting or finance professionals. However, administrative assistants, project managers, cost estimators, loan officers, analysts, economists, and statisticians, among others, have all likely touched Excel during their careers. Moreover, the fact that you may be called upon to explain what data is behind the spreadsheet is even more important. Your colleagues need to trust your quantitative abilities.

Not everyone is a strong speaker. Most people, even the most accomplished speakers, have a few nerves before presenting to a group. Public speaking, like any skill, can be improved with practice. When you first discovered Excel, you probably had a “knack” for it, but you weren’t familiar with functions like the VLOOKUP function. Over time, you learned the basics of Excel, but then you learned the more advanced concepts. Public speaking is similar. You may never be the best public speaker, but this may be an area that could be practiced. Start with a small group or on Zoom. Your audience members should be a close group of trusted friends, colleagues or family members. Ask them for feedback. Their comments may include making better eye contact or smiling. Or they may tell you to slow down and not rush through your presentation. Whatever the feedback, listen and think about how to improve. You can also ask your audience what you do well. Do you look confident in the material? Are you able to explain the data and any ideas and/or conclusions? It is important to listen to feedback in a positive way. If you’re defensive, your audience members will be reluctant to share their feedback.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. I think the key is knowing what they are. You might want to look for roles that specify requirements such as advanced Excel and quantitative skills. I think the key is knowing what they are. You will land. In Massachusetts, the unemployment rate is just over 3%, which is unusually low. For now, it’s a world of candidates. Good luck in your search.

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