Know Your Skills

A skill is the ability to do a certain task well. Skills can be a natural ability or they can 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.

  • Professional skills: These are the skills necessary to perform a specific job. A pilot must know how to safely fly and land an airplane. An auto mechanic must know how to repair a flat tire and tune an engine.
  • Adaptive skills: These are personal characteristics that are unique to you, they describe you and how you interact with others. They assist you when adjusting to a new situation or job and include creativity, self-motivation and dependability.
  • Critical skills: These are skills necessary to maintain a job. They include the ability to consistently arrive at work on time, the ability to follow instructions and to complete job tasks in a timely manner.
  • Transferable skills: These are the skills you take with you from job to job. You can transfer them from one employer to another and are valuable in most work situations. They include public speaking, problem solving, project completion, and coping skills. They might also include computer skills or skills with specific software.

Examples of Skills

Professional Adaptive Critical Transferable
You will want to specify or quantify these skills by prefacing them with a transferable skill. For example: Diagnosing a car engine malfunction. These are so essential to achieving success on the job that employers value your adaptive skills above all other types of skills. These are essential to maintaining your job. You develop these naturally from all aspects of life.
Foreign languages Deliberate Arrive to work on time Teaching
Cares Analytical Follow instructions Public speaking
Organs of the body Energetic Punch in on timecard Assembling
Food operating machinery Strong Submit timecard Supervising
Parts of a refrigerator Expressive Complete assigned tasks Computing
Minerals (specify) Tactful   Researching
Buildings (specify) Reasonable   Organizing
Floral arrangements Precise   Analyzing
Hydraulics Helpful   Deciding
Jewelry Productive   Operating
Journalism Dependable   Designing
Motors Truthful   Repairing
Hair Capable   Advising
Finance Diplomatic   Appraising
Drills Creative   Bargaining
Clothes Enthusiastic   Budgeting
Income taxes Industrious   Communicating
Musical instruments Loyal   Developing
Inventory, stock Patient   Interviewing


Common Work Skills
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

Do a skills assessment and then write down Your Top 10 Skills and Occupations that Match Your Skills (pdf).

Online Skills Assessments

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