Perform a Skills Assessment in 6 Easy Steps

Want hiring managers to swoon over you? First, you have to figure out exactly what makes you so awesome at what you do.

Perform a Skills Assessment in 6 Easy Steps

What skills do you have that companies really want?

A skills assessment is deceptively tricky. Many job seekers have a hard time taking a step back, looking at themselves in the mirror, and scrutinizing what they see. If you’re not sure what to look for, how exactly are you supposed to stand out from the zillions of other candidates? And we’re not just talking about your job interview attire—we’re talking about reflecting on your professional skills.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what makes you so awesome at your job? More important: Have you ever adequately answered that question?

Truth be told, lots of job seekers don’t think through what skills they bring to employers. And, among those who do take stock of their career skills, many underestimate or overestimate their skill set. Neither scenario is a good look, but the former could remove you from the running sooner.

Not only do you risk failing to make it past the initial screening stages if you lowball yourself, but if you underestimate your skills, you might also undercut your value.  

So what exactly are you good at that would make a company love to have you on their team? Take these six steps for an accurate skills assessment.

Skills Assessment Steps

1. Reflect on Your Job Description

Looking for a good starting point? Make a list. Refer back to the job posting of your current position, and see what skills were mentioned as requirements. Most likely, you’ll find it easiest to pinpoint hard skills, like computer literacy or fluency in a foreign language, because they’re the things you’ve learned through schooling or training, and are often tied directly to your work experience or degrees and certificates you’ve earned.

But when writing down your hard skills, it’s important to drill down to specifics. For example, instead of just telling a hiring manager that you’re proficient at Excel, talk about what Excel tools you’ve mastered. Do you know how to create pivot tables? Build macros? Write formulas? The more specific, the better.

2. Zero in on Soft Skills

The next step in your skills assessment takes you beyond technical know-how. Some of the most important professional skills can’t be taught in a classroom or measured on paper. These soft skills include analytical thinking, verbal and written communication, and leadership. In fact, research from the Society for Human Resource Management found that employers actually care more about soft skills than they do technical abilities like reading comprehension and mathematics.

Think about what soft skills are in your repertoire, and focus on how you’ve applied those skills. How have you proved yourself to be a team player? How have you resolved conflict with co-workers? How do you adapt to unexpected challenges?

3. Look at Your Performance Reviews

A good indicator of your professional skills is how managers have appraised your performance in the past. When reading old performance reviews, pay attention to not only your strengths but also your weaknesses—and think about what steps you’ve taken to improve in those areas.

4. Ask Other People for Feedback

Try speaking to former managers to see what skills they think make you a top performer. (Current and past coworkers can also be good sources.)

One warning: You shouldn’t be soliciting feedback from your office bestie. Find people you can turn to for honest feedback on your performance.

5. Take an Online Behavior Test

A number of employers today are asking job candidates to take behavior or personality tests like DISC or Myers-Briggs. These self-assessments help you understand your interests, emotional intelligence, values, personality traits, and motivations. As a result, you’ll be in the lead if you take some of these tests on your own.

6. Check Out Job Postings in Your Industry

Once you have a comprehensive list of your skills and some anecdotes of them in action, it’s time to apply them to the needs of companies hiring. You can do that by looking at job postings, specifically from companies and organizations that are at the forefront of your industry.

You can find postings in your career field by searching for jobs on Monster. Note which skills frequently show up in ads and see where your own professional skills overlap. This will give you a good indication of which of your skills you should highlight on your resume and in your cover letter. Customize your resumes and cover letters for each new job ad you apply to, making sure to use the same keywords that the companies do.

Double Down on Your Career Skills

Periodically perform a skills assessment so that you're aware of how you're developing professionally. Things not moving as quickly as you'd like? Create a free profile on Monster and we'll send you career advice, job search tips, and even job alerts of your choosing. We can help you find which next step to take.