Know Your Skills

A skill is the ability to do a certain task well. Skills can be a natural ability and can also be learned over time. You can gain or expand your skills with practice or training. It is important to assess your skills at all phases of your career since you develop new skills at work, school, and through extracurricular activities.

There are different ways to group your skills.

  • Technical skills: These skills are specific to occupations. Welders need to work with special equipment. Nurses need to understand medical terms. The descriptions of occupations will list required skills. Find more information about occupations by using the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
  • Transferable skills: These are skills that can be used in almost every industry and in a lot of different jobs. There is a short list of common transferable skills listed below, but you should explore other online skill assessments.
  • Soft Skills: These are behavioral competencies. They include skills such as communication, social graces/manners, problem solving, critical thinking, conflict resolution, negotiation, teamwork, optimism, friendliness, work ethic, time management and personal habits. You can take the Soft Skills Inventory (pdf) to rate your skills.

Common Transferable Skills

Read over these skills and think if you have or need to gain any of them. Start your skill assessment by looking at these groups. Ask people close to you for feedback.  

Skill Set Description Examples
Basic Skills These are skills needed by almost all workers. These skills are very important to have. Writing, for example, is a basic skill that gets you into a good job. Not having it can keep you out of a good job.
  • Able to follow directions
  • Academic
  • Able to listen
  • Read for Information
  • Synthesize
  • Punctual
  • Honest
  • Count, Numerical
  • Organized
  • Able to remember
  • Analyze
  • Spatial Reasoning
  • Visualize
  • Generate Ideas
  • Physical Activity
People Skills These are some of the most needed and wanted skills. They're sometimes called "soft skills." These skills help people to work well with others.
  • Deal with Feelings
  • Coordinate with others
  • Help others
  • Initiate Change
  • Persuade
  • Teach others
  • Teach, Train
  • Mediate 
  • Cheerful
  • Interview for Information
  • Cooperative
  • Patience
  • Diplomatic
  • Tolerant
  • Generous
Management Skills All workers need these skills, not just managers. Employers hire people who can keep track of projects, money, and their time.
  • Budget
  • Observing
  • Supervise
  • Estimate
  • Evaluate
  • Act as liaison
  • Expedite
  • Take directions
  • Plan, Organize
  • Listening skills
  • Make Decisions
  • Motivate
  • Researching
  • Negotiate
Technical Skills Technology includes computers and equipment. Computers are common in most workplaces. People in all occupations should know how to work with technology.
  • Counsel
  • Manual Dexterity
  • Plant, Cultivate
  • Host/Hostess
  • Make Arrangements
  • Mechanical
  • Use Carpentry Abilities
  • Portray Images
  • Produce Skilled Crafts
  • Stage Shows
  • Transport
  • Treat, Nurse
  • Observe
  • Compose Music
  • Entertain, Perform
  • Classify
  • Maintain Records
  • Prepare Food
  • Design
  • Write, Proofread, Edit
  • Sell
  • Tend Animals

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