Are your skills ready for prime time?
Skills, strengths and abilities sound like fluffy words in a market where many job seekers are left feeling like being qualified just isn't enough. Employers seem to be looking for someone who can do the job, fit in with a culture that they want to keep under wraps until you start, and will be the perfect age, gender, etc. Check-out some of the free tools you can use to determine the value of your skills to current employers as well as some resources for enhancing your employability.
A quick way to see the general value of your current work-related skills is to try the Employability Checkup on America's Career InfoNet. It takes about five minutes to complete the brief online form which will ask for information like the state you live in, current earnings, and the level of training/experience you have in your field. It will also ask for the general industry and job title. The results will provide you with an overview of typical qualifications for the occupations you have chosen, employment trends in your area, and how you stack-up to what employers are looking for.
If you notice that your skill levels fall short in certain areas, it might be worth investigating free/low cost retraining options. For job seekers with extremely limited funds who need relatively quick programs to enhance employability, contacting the local Workforce1 office is probably the best place to start. More information about Workforce1 training programs is available here. The New York Public Library also offers free computer classes at several locations. Before considering any retraining program, be sure to conduct an honest evaluation of how much the training will enhance your earnings and employability over time. Many programs have price tags and time requirements that can far outweigh the benefits to a career changer.