Skill Identification: How to Do a Thorough Skills Inventory

by Paul Sears, WorkForce Center Staff


“There is a rich reward awaiting the job seeker who will spend the time to figure out his or her skills.”
~ Richard Nelson Bolles, What Color Is Your Parachute

Anything that you know or anything that you can do is a skill.

Musings on Skills and Careers, Part 1: Find The Good Place
Musings on Skills and Careers, Part 2: Skills Checklist


Most people have far more skills than they are aware of. Knowing your best and favorite skills and which of those are in demand by employers is essential for an effective job search.

We classify skills in three groups:

  • Self-Management Skills
  • Transferable Skills
  • Job Content Skills

Self-Management Skills are personality traits and characteristics suited for doing a job well.

Transferable Skills are widely useful skills you can carry with you to re-use in new work.

Job Content Skills are the many other things you know or can do, sometimes called technical or “hard skills.”

Put together, your skills are what make you an asset to your next employer!


Look over the skills listed on the Self-Management Skills & General Traits, Transferable Skill and Job Content Skills worksheets. You will make “four passes” through the worksheets, marking personal qualities and transferable skills in this manner:

Mark each skill with a check to the left of it if you believe you have this quality or skill.

Look at all items you marked with a check. Put a circle to the right of it if you take pride in, enjoy, or would look forward to using that quality or skill. Does it make you smile?

Now look at the items you marked with a circle. Now underline the qualities and skills marked with a circle that you imagine employers value and wish you to have, i.e., which traits and skills would an employer you’d want to work for actually crave and pay for?

Look at the items you underlined. These traits and skills are highly significant! These are characteristics and strengths which you have, like using, and are likely to be prized by an organization you are attracted to.

For your fourth and final pass pick the underlined items which you believe are your “top sellers” and put a star near them.

The starred items you may consider for your resume and want to talk about in your networking campaign and at job interviews.


3 thoughts on “Skill Identification: How to Do a Thorough Skills Inventory

  1. Sherri Westlake

    I have to say this is one of the best, well thought out ares to really consider when preparing to put a resume’ together. Thank you.

  2. Angela Hall

    I really enjoyed this exercise or exercises, and see how they can be very helpful in career research and planning. Thank you.

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