Understand Your Skills

Posted on: April 1, 2012, by :
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Skills are the Foundation for Career Transitions


Successful career transitions are impacted by how well you understand your skills.  By definition skills are competencies which are transferable to several work settings. Richard Nelson Bolles does an excellent job in “What Color is Your Parachute” of providing a comprehensive framework for evaluating your skills.  By being able to classify your transferable skills into three categories (Data, People, Things) you can better understand the strength of your skills and assess your experience using them.  For example, you may have strong skills with People.  You may excel at speaking, persuading, or teaching.  Now consider that you may not be strong with Data including collecting, analyzing, and formatting the data that you would use during a presentation.

Understanding your strengths and preferences are particularly valuable in the workplace and when searching for a new job or changing careers.  It’s also helpful to understand your competency level within each skill.  Understand if you perform at basic, intermediate, advanced or expert levels.  Then use this understanding to set professional development goals that will help you improve consistently over time.  Remember to update your goals to coincide with the areas in which you need the most improvement in the near term while steadily increasing your abilities in other less demanding areas as well.

While many are of the opinion that the skills someone prefers to use indicates what skills they are good at using, this is not always the case.  Consider someone who enjoys public speaking but has lacked the opportunity to practice public speaking and strengthen the skill they possess.  This individual may perform at a basic or intermediate level.  Performance management and developmental goals could help to strengthen their public speaking skills and their advancement to the expert level.  Learn how to understand your transferable skills here.


Photo by Thomas Hawk, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.

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