How to Assess Your Own Skills and Qualities

assess your own skills and qualities

Understanding how to assess your own skills and qualities can be a game-changer. It’s like seeing yourself in a mirror and understanding where you shine and where you might need a bit of polishing. Assessing your skills and qualities isn’t just a self-improvement exercise, but it can empower your journey of personal development.

According to a 2018 Harvard Business Review study, professionals who have a high level of self-awareness tend to perform better, make more informed decisions and receive more promotions.

Assess Your Skills: Hard vs Soft

Skills are similar to a workman’s tools – while some are specialised (hard skills), others are more versatile and can be useful across different situations (soft skills).

  • Hard Skills: These are the technical skills you can learn, practice and measure. Think of them as the specialised tools in your toolbox. You typically acquire hard skills through formal education, training or on-the-job experience. For instance, for a programmer, expertise in Python or Java is a hard skill; for a digital marketer, SEO knowledge would be an example of a hard skill.
  • Soft Skills: These are your interpersonal skills – the traits that dictate how you interact and collaborate with others. They’re not as straightforward to measure as hard skills, but they’re just as vital. Examples of soft skills include communication, teamwork, adaptability and problem-solving.

While hard skills might get your foot in the door for your chosen career, soft skills often determine how far you’ll go. In fact, according to Skills Builder Partnership 2023 research, people with better soft skills have a financial advantage, earning on average an extra £4,600 each year.

How to Assess Your Skills in 7 Simple Steps

Assessing your skills is essential for your professional growth – and it’s easier than you may think! Here are 7 simple steps to help you assess your competencies.

1. Read your Current Job Description

Your job description contains a detailed list of the qualities and skills required to perform the role well. While you probably have a good idea of your current skills, revisiting your job description can help you identify strengths you may have overlooked or undervalued.

2. Self-Reflect

Begin by thinking about the big milestones in your life, the moments that fill you with pride. It could be a project you successfully led, a challenge you conquered or a personal goal you achieved. These important moments can shed light on your key strengths and skills.

Dig into your past appraisals if you have access. These provide a good overview of your technical competencies and interpersonal skills. Look out for patterns or evolving trends in the feedback to help you assess your skills.

3. Think About Your Interests

Which tasks or activities make time fly for you at work? Is it researching a new idea, coordinating events or analysing data? Think about the responsibilities that you most enjoy – it can shed light on your strengths and areas of expertise.

4. Seek Feedback

Sometimes we are our own harshest critics, focusing too much on our failures. In these moments, it’s helpful to reach out to your peers, colleagues and supervisors for constructive feedback which you can use to fuel your future career growth.

5. Browse Job Listings

Reviewing job adverts will provide you with insights into what other companies are looking for, both in terms of expertise and interpersonal skills. Explore job openings that are relevant to your position or the role you want to pursue and take note of the required and desirable skills employers are seeking from candidates.

This’ll help you gain a clearer understanding of where your skill gaps lie, so you can determine which training opportunities might benefit you. Prioritise what you need to learn and set clear goals for yourself.

6. Try an Online Assessment

There are so many online quizzes and tools specifically designed to help you assess your skills. Whether it’s a personality test, the UK Government’s Skills Health Check, a leadership assessment or a technical quiz, these resources can be useful in understanding your skills better.

7. Keep a Journal

Consider writing a skills journal where you can keep track of your skills and update them regularly. By reviewing and updating this list, you can stay aware of how your skill set is evolving and identify areas that need further work.

By following these steps, you can effectively assess your own skills and qualities. But remember, self-assessment isn’t a one-time activity – it’s an ongoing process, evolving as you move ahead in your career and life.

While both hard and soft skills are crucial to your career development, let’s delve deeper into two specific soft skills that play a key role in your career progression – communication and leadership skills.

How to Assess Your Communication Skills

Effective communication is essential in both personal and professional settings, allowing you to express your ideas and ensure they are understood by those around you. Here’s how you can assess your communication skills:

1. Understand the Fundamentals of Communication

Good communication isn’t just about having the ability to speak clearly – you also need people to understand you And that requires active listening, empathy and giving timely feedback too.

2. Know When To Use Different Types of Communication

  • Verbal Communication: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”. Reflect on your tone, pace and choice of words. A well-phrased statement can lead to clarity, while a poorly chosen word can create confusion.
  • Non-Verbal Communication: Your body language complements your words. Simple gestures like maintaining eye contact or nodding can reinforce understanding. On the other hand, crossing your arms could signal disinterest or boredom.
  • Written Communication: In today’s digital world, written words are incredibly important but can easily be misconstrued. Whether it’s an email, a report or a tweet, make sure your message is as clear as possible.

3. Self-Assessment

To truly assess your communication skills, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do team members often ask you to rephrase or clarify things?
  • In group discussions, are you an active listener or the one leading the conversation?
  • How do you handle discussions when there are differing opinions?

Once you’ve answered these questions, take a moment to analyse your responses. Identify areas where you excel and any that might need improvement. For instance, if you find your colleagues frequently asking for clarification, work on making your verbal communication more concise and clear. If you tend to dominate group discussions, aim to balance your participation by actively listening to others’ perspectives.

4. Seek Feedback

Bill Gates once said: “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” While introspection is valuable, there’s nothing quite like an external perspective to offer clarity. Encourage colleagues, mentors and friends to share their thoughts on your communication style. Their insights might highlight nuances you’ve missed, giving you a more rounded understanding of how you present yourself.

5. Record and Review Yourself

Consider recording a presentation or training session you’ve delivered. Watching it back gives you a chance to see yourself from your colleagues’ viewpoint. Pay attention to your choice of words, tone and body language. This is a practical way to spot areas for improvement and make sure your future communication is clearer and more impactful.

By combining self-reflection with external feedback, you’ll be able to thoroughly assess your communication skills and start making a plan for improvement.

How to Assess Your Leadership Skills

At its core, leadership is the art of dealing with people. It’s having the ability to inspire, guide and influence others towards a shared objective, as well as the confidence to take the lead.

A good leader is:

  • Visionary: An exceptional leader has a clear vision of what they want to achieve and how. They can communicate their vision effectively to get everyone on board with it.
  • Empathetic: A great leader genuinely cares about their team and considers everyone’s emotions and feelings.
  • Decisive: An effective leader can make informed decisions promptly and confidently.
  • Accountable: They take full responsibility for the outcomes achieved by their team, even if they’re negative.
  • Adaptable: They embrace change and can modify their approach to different scenarios and challenges.

Here’s how you can assess your leadership skills:

1. Review Your Leadership Actions

Think about how you act. Do you lead by example? How do you handle unexpected changes? How do team members react to you? Asking yourself these questions can help you improve as a leader.

2. Seek 360-Degree Feedback

Get as much feedback as possible – from your friends, colleagues, peers and superiors. It’ll provide you with a comprehensive understanding of how you’re being perceived as a leader.

3. Establish Goals

Define clear objectives for your leadership role. For instance, you might want to improve team morale or boost communication.

4. Review Progress

Regularly evaluate your progress towards your goals. If you find yourself falling short, reflect on the reasons why and make a plan to get back on track.

5. Invest in Leadership Development

Attend leadership workshops and relevant courses, or find a mentor to improve your leadership skills. These opportunities can help challenge your leadership style, encourage growth and offer a fresh perspective.

How a Mentor Can Help You Assess Your Own Skills and Qualities

Navigating the path of self-assessment might feel like walking through a maze of underground tunnels. That’s where a mentor steps in, acting as a guiding light. Here’s how a mentor can help you with assessing your skills and qualities:

  • A Fresh Pair of Eyes: Mentors offer an invaluable external perspective. They see you from a different angle, noticing strengths and valuable character traits you might miss about yourself.
  • Spotting Hidden Talents: Ever been surprised when someone points out a strength you never knew you had? Mentors have a knack for identifying these hidden talents, as well as highlighting areas where you might benefit from a bit more focus.
  • Setting SMART Goals: Goals give direction but setting SMART goals? That’s taking it to the next level. With a mentor’s guidance, you can craft goals that are ambitious, realistic and tailored to you.
  • Creating a Plan: Knowing what to improve is one thing. Knowing how to do it is another. Mentors help you create a clear, actionable plan to polish your skills and qualities. They’re there to support you, every step of the way.

Find a Mentor

In your journey of professional growth, having a mentor can make all the difference. With Career Navig8r, finding the right mentor to help you recognise and hone your skills has never been easier.

Simply visit the Career Navig8r platform, search for mentors by job role, browse through mentor profiles and explore their areas of expertise to find the perfect mentor for you.

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