Thursday, June 28, 2007

Determining your skills

Recently while waiting in line to be served at the supermarket I overheard the checkout operator comment to a customer that she had no skills; “that's why I'm working here”, was her comment. As I moved forward in the queue I started to become conscious of the skills the operator was displaying; customer service, cash handling and computer operations to name a few.

typewriterIn some ways, over time, we become to close to our day to day activities to see the forest for the trees so to speak, or in this case our skills for the tasks. Every day in paid and unpaid employment we combine a number of skills to achieved tasks. Recognising the skills used is important for several reasons; progression of our career, career stability, changing our career , identifying areas for further development or job enrichment.

There are a number of ways to determine your skills. Some of the techniques require a Career Counsellor while there are some you can do yourself. Let's look at one method that can be used by anyone, regardless of whether you are in paid or unpaid employment. To get started you will need something to record your results in an exercise book or in a computer document will be fine.

At the end of each working day, stop and reflect on the tasks you undertook during the day and record these. To effectively use this techniques you will need to do the reflection for 2-4 weeks (4 weeks is better). Once you have constructed the lists of tasks for the day, its time to consider what skills were used in performing these tasks. Usually you will find that a number of skills are repeated.

When developing your list of tasks don't forget to include tasks that are performed occasionally through out the year, such as; stock taking, balancing your cheque book or relieving in a different position.

Once you have a list of your skills it's possible to take the process another step further by rating your skills. Self rating can assist you in determining if there are any skills you might need to develop further.

Self rating can be an uncomfortable experience, but it's one that's worthwhile. To get started, first decide on a rating scale, such as 1-9 (use odd numbers so you can't sit on the fence).

Task - Provide Effective Customer Service

Skills and Rating (1 high - 9 low)

  • Communicating over the phone - rating 3

  • Handling conflict - rating 7

  • Time management - rating 3

  • High level utilisation of email - rating 5

  • Coordinating function events - rating 4

Once you have identified your skills and self rated, your in a position to determine if any particular skill/s might require further development. When considering further development you are faced with two options. You can update your skills formally or informally.

Formal strategies would involve undertaking a course at vocational or university level. Informal skill development can involve discussing strategies with your employment through a performance planning program or self directed by planning a learning play yourself or even through volunteering with a community organisation.

© Craig Birrell, June 2006. For resources and more details visit – – this article maybe reproduced; if in full with credit details.

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