Assessing Your Skills

Being able to stand back and assess the skills you have can be one of the hardest things about writing a CV and interviewing. To you, it’s just the job you did. It can be difficult to break it down into a set of skills that employers could be interested in. This is particularly true if you are reskilling. You can easily be left feeling that your old career has nothing to offer you as you try to move forward in your new career. That simply isn’t true.

Before you get started, get yourself a copy of our Skills Assessment template. Now, here’s how you use that to assess the skills you already have…

Start with a previous role and write down all the things you did as part of that role. Consider every task and element of the job, no matter how small or routine it seems to you. It’s really about breaking things down into their most basic elements, think about areas such as:

  • Protocols you followed and how you reported
  • Responsibilities you took on – examples of decision making or setting priorities
  • Team working
  • Leadership – man management, supervisory responsibilities
  • Opportunities you took to learn – courses and qualifications
  • KPIs and results – any targets or goals you were set and how you did against them
  • Other people you came into contact with – suppliers, customers, partner organisations
  • How you communicated with other people – email correspondence, conference calls, running staff meetings
  • IT systems used
  • Analysis and problem solving – did you spot a new way to do somethings? A process to streamline?
  • Thing you had to organise – systems you put in place or identifying new ways of doing things
    Troubleshooting or handling complaints
    Change management – showing you can adapt and thrive, adapting to new technology
    Time management and organisation

Do this for each of the jobs you’ve had, at each of the companies you’ve worked for. And then consider doing it for any extracurricular activities you take part in, if they have something new to offer.

As someone reskilling you should also have an acute awareness of finding examples of:

  • Learning
  • Adapting
  • Thriving in new environments
  • Seeking new skills and opportunities

It’s important that you can show a hiring manager that you have the capacity to take on something new and do well at it.

Also think about your previous appraisals and job reviews, what did your manager say your strengths were? What have colleagues praised you for or commented on? What would people in the workplace ask for your advice or opinions about?

Do this at the start of your job hunt so you have a good idea about the roles that will be most suitable to your skill set. It’s also a task you should consider each time you apply for a position as you need to be able to match your skills against the ones they require. For each new application:

  • Read through job advert and pick out skills and experience they ask for specifically
  • Refer to your previous list and align tasks, duties and experiences from your previous role to match up against these specific requirements
  • Highlight these in your CV and when you get to interview.

Areas to pay particular attention to in your CV are the personal summary at the start and the details given about your previous roles – use the specific language used in the job advert, make it easy for whoever reads it to see that you fit all of their criteria.

Always remember that the person looking at your CV or interviewing you is unlikely to be familiar with the details of your previous roles. You can’t expect them to be able to find transferrable skills from it if you can’t! Learn to lead people through your experiences, highlighting how they have given you the skills and capabilities you need for reskilling and being successful in this new industry.