A skills assessment can be used at any time in your life, whatever your tasks, responsibilities, and job level. It can be particularly indispensable for anyone who has not worked for several years and wants to find a job. It will help to prepare a well-documented and solid approach to job applications. It can also help you refocus on certain phases of your career to date and encourage reflection on your career path and aspirations. I always recommend this to people who say "I don’t know what job I can do": thanks to this assessment, they become aware of all their skills.
List your skills
To get started, make a list of significant projects you have managed or tasks you completed. A project does not need to be something large-scale and complicated involving the whole company. Reorganizing the office or a task schedule, and the way you work with your boss are all projects. Think about the improvements you made, the difficulties you encountered. How did you convince your boss to change something?
Then select a project or task and make a set of lists in a table:
the actions: the steps to accomplish the task, to bring the project to a successful conclusion. Think about the very beginning of the action: did you have an innovative idea? did you have to sell it to your manager? or did you get instructions? Think about each step.
your professional skills for each action: your knowledge of a specific field of work, processes, systems, products, regulations, methods, etc., including your knowledge of languages and computer programs. Your learning put into practice, either as a result of courses or training, or through colleagues or consultants.
your personal skills for each action: analysis, synthesis, precision, communication, innovation, convincing, taking up a challenge, overcoming fear, etc.
your social skills: communication, teamwork, conflict management, customer orientation, adaptability, ability to work with people from different cultures, etc.
Of course, some skills will be the same for several actions. Highlight the result of each project or task: how satisfied your boss was; how it improved the organisation. Also think about what you have learned or enhanced during this project or task.
You can repeat this exercise for two or three tasks or projects. Your skills will stand out.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Be honest about your skills: this document is for your eyes only. From these lists you will rapidly be able to deduce both your definite strengths and weaknesses.
List them. Select three of each - or more if this exercise is easy for you - and explain why a strength is a strength and how you address your weaknesses. Give a very pragmatic example for each one, either in your professional life or in your private life. Think of situations that are simple, but that explain well how your strengths are employed or how you spot a weakness.
A strength is not just the implementation of a big, complicated project. A strength can be your ability to work in a group, your natural leadership, your knowledge of methodology, of a subject, of a product. Strengths are both visible to and recognized by those around you: your friends, colleagues.
Defining a weakness does not mean saying "I am stubborn", but, for example, in demonstrating how you overcome unease in speaking during a meeting, by preparing yourself well in advance and asking your manager to invite you to speak during the meeting. For every weakness, there is potential for improvement. You know Excel, but you do not know how to make a pivot table: look for a student, colleague or friend who can teach you how to do it, and practice at home, on your household budget for example.
Some questions will remain unanswered. Talk to a trusted colleague or friend, and do not say "I am not good at this," but rather "how can I improve regarding this weakness?”. People who know you well will be able to help you, give you suggestions.
For each skill, each strength, each weakness, look for a specific example in the lists you have made or in your private life. Managing your private and professional life is already a project. If you have "tricks", strategies for dealing with your teenage kids, or stopping your baby's crying, it is because you already have an ability to solve problems. When you talk with your friends informally, at parties, think about it and the examples or ideas will come up. Of course, examples that are more professional than private are preferable.
Then write down the following based on your action lists and skills:
what I do: this list should be about a dozen points...
what I like: this list will obviously be shorter than the previous one.
objective(s): this point may require detailed reflection for some, while perfectly clear for others. Do not look too far. What is your objective? What do you want to achieve in your work? It may be no more than simply wanting tangible results and recognition for the work done.
List of projects or tasks
List of actions for a project
Lists of professional and personal skills for each action
List of strengths and weaknesses
With these elements, you will learn to know yourself better, have the necessary tools to look for a job, rediscover the purpose of your current job, project yourself into the future, or even simply reassure yourself about the skills you already have.