Skills inventory 101 for the job seeker

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

Looking for a job? You're not alone.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports for June 2006 state that the nation's unemployment rate remains steady at 4.6 percent. But some industry sectors are volatile indeed. While jobs have been added in healthcare, retail employment has been falling, along with that in manufacturing and information.

On the macroeconomic level this might look acceptable. Yet when we are talking about a mid-career breadwinner – say, a television cameraman with years of experience who is retraining to become an entry-level nurses' aid pushing gurneys down hospital corridors – the options aren't so attractive.

It is right to have meaningful employment, work that feeds both the family and one's sense of self-worth. Our work is an expression of God's action. Because we, as God's daughters and sons, include the ideas God gives, God's action is part of our very being.

Mary Baker Eddy explained it this way in her textbook on Christian Science: "The divine Mind includes all action and volition, and man in Science is governed by this Mind" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 187).

For the job seeker, though, it may be hard to know where to start. When I'm asked to pray with someone who is looking for a job, I've found it helpful to begin from a spiritual basis. Instead of first focusing on a conventional résumé, it's useful to compile a spiritual inventory – to think less about the conventional format of job and salary history, and more about the spiritual, God-like qualities that the individual has already proved. For example, someone who works in banking probably has developed a high degree of accuracy, precision, integrity, and honesty.

All these skills are great, but in order to go higher, we need to translate them into spiritual qualities by recognizing God as their source. Honesty, for example, expresses God as Truth.

Mrs. Eddy identified seven basic names, or synonyms, for God in "Science and Health": Truth, Life, Love, Soul, Spirit, Principle, and Mind. To pray about each of these synonyms, discovering what they disclose about God and ourselves, and then to find examples of how we've expressed them throughout our job history, is not just a mental exercise. Doing this lifts us to communion with God and transforms a job search.

What comes next? Sometimes the job seeker is led to start up a conversation that opens doors unexpectedly, or a posting leaps out from an online job-search list. Or, an employer might call out of the blue – and this has often been my experience, although I've also answered my share of ads. Both writing a résumé and taking a spiritual inventory of skills and experience are acts of prayer, and not just products of hope.

A spiritually based résumé can be irresistible. Imagine coming to a home and being greeted by the aroma of brownies or roast chicken. When a prospective employee develops his or her inventory of spiritual qualifications, the effect on prospective employers is similar. When you recognize yourself as the expression of that infinite good that is God, you become attractive in a whole new way. God is the author of your usefulness, and because that's true, you will find in yourself God-like qualities that are integral to your nature. It makes what you have to give irresistible.

Likewise, this celebration of spiritual qualities sharpens your perception of job opportunities. You can sense the aroma of Spirit, and know whether a job will be a good fit. Putting spiritual qualities foremost, the job and the job seeker come together for mutual benefit, and in mutual gratitude.

Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel.

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