You have analysed your background, listed all your experiences and identified a certain number of skills that you have used and developed, for which you’ve been able to prove your talents!
Still using the same method, we’ll now proceed to steps 3 and 4:
3. Assess your skills: Where are you good at?
4. How would you like your skills to develop? What is your potential for improvement?
Some of you already have a clear idea about your career plan and are eager to seek out job offers and apply. Others are still uncertain about your choice of job, company, region, etc.
This approach suits both scenarios:
You will need to be realistic about your skill level and your potential for development if you are to attract potential employers/recruitment agencies and make them believe in your application.
If, like many people, you are still searching for your vocation, this assessment will be very useful in building your career plan!
Assess your skills
A skill can be assessed on several levels. There are different scales that you can use to label these levels, but for the purpose of this course, we will use the following:
Beginner: you’re a novice but have already mastered some simple tasks; however, you need a tutor/manager/expert nearby to answer your questions and help you progress.
Average: you know how to do most tasks, but still have some progress to make; you may be considered a 'junior' in professional situations where this skill is key.
Very good: you are proficient with projects and can work independently; you can train beginners and even tutor juniors, but you need expert advice for complex tasks.
Excellent: you’re an expert in every, or almost every, aspect of this skill. You are able to train juniors and can even help those who are already proficient themselves. With this level of skill, you can also lead research and development!
Fill out your table
You have pinpointed several experiences and at least 2 to 3 skills for each of them. This should give you a list of between 6 and 20 different skills.
You are now going to assess your level of proficiency for each skill.
Ask yourself the following questions for each one:
What is my level?
What proof do I have of the level I say I have?
Use the previous table (experiences - results - skills) you’ve created and add new columns.
Here’s an example of a skills assessment to help you:
Cold call a lead over the telephone
Create a PowerPoint presentation for a new project you are managing
Interpret and understand officially published statistics
Design a business plan for a sole proprietorship
Assessing your skills this way ensures you identify your strengths and areas for improvement. It will help you pinpoint jobs that fall into your areas of knowledge.
Benchmark your skills
Some skills are essential in certain professions; there’s no such thing as a butcher who doesn’t know how to use a knife or an accountant who can’t count!
If you have one or more ideas of what career you would like, take a good look at the skills that are relevant for that profession.
On the internet, you can easily find job descriptions and profiles, or job offers that have been posted, as well as the skills required:
Why not try a job directory? The National Careers Service website includes an in-depth analysis of many different types of careers, including education and skills requirements.
Why not consult the UK Shortage Occupations List that specifies professions that are in high demand in the UK?
If you would like a better understanding of careers by sector of activity, consult the Prospects website.
Start researching potential careers in the booming Digital Industry.
As you can see, potential employers/recruitment agencies will be interested in your education and qualifications, but they will pay particular attention to your skills and what you know how to do! They will assess how well you suit the company’s requirements, whether you will soon be operational and efficient - basically whether you’re a good fit!
What are your key skills, and are they related to your career choices?
It would be worth determining what key skills are required for the career you’re interested in.
Next, identify on your list the skills that match the job, and determine your current level.
For those who haven’t yet decided on a career, the opposite approach can be very useful:
Assess which skills you are ‘excellent’ and ‘very good’ at.
Look at what kind of career they are suited to.
Does that give you any ideas?
Each job also requires significant behavioural qualities, which will be reflected in social skills such as:
strong learning and adaptability skills;
ability to work in a team, in project groups... the ability to share skills!
Identify which areas need improving
So far, this analysis has helped assess your key skills, as well as compare them with those that are required for the jobs that interest you. Of course, you’re not ‘excellent’ at everything - no one is! You should be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses. In order to make your profile as a job-seeker as attractive as possible, you may need to improve on certain areas.
What skills do I need to implement my career plan successfully?
What are the most important skills?
What level do I have for these skills?
What do I need to do to progress and achieve my goal?
Based on your career plans and your interests, you may need to:
strengthen certain skills you already have, but which need improving for the career goals in mind;
acquire the skills required for the job you are targeting.
How can you strengthen your skills?
There are several possibilities:
Think about taking a course to improve your skills. There are plenty of online courses. Many offer a certificate of completion. For example, don't miss the OpenClassrooms courses Learn how to work autonomously, Learn teamwork, Prepare professional written documents, Speak in public, Learn how to learn, and others.
Look for an internship. To help you with this, begin with understanding local codes of practice and general guidelines for beginning an internship.
Get involved in a club or charity to try new experiences, test and develop skills. Become a volunteer!
Find and apply for a student or temp job that will provide you with work experience in a straightforward context and help you develop your skill set.
It’s worth exploring other skills too: you can add them all to your portfolio! Have you assessed your Microsoft Office skills?
It’s vital to assess your skill level if you are to have an achievable and realistic vision and build a solid career plan!
Ask yourself, 'What proof do I have of the level I assume I have?' Think of ways you’ve demonstrated your skill.
Benchmark your skills! Compare them with what potential employers/recruitment agencies expect in the career that interests you.
You have to work on your skills! There are many solutions on offer to explore and improve your key skills and to add new skills to your profile.
You will have to manage your skills throughout your (working) life. Some skills will develop, others will become less relevant and fall out of use; in the long run, you will acquire many throughout your career.
This ability to assess your skills and develop them based on your needs and goals, but also according to the development of the job market, is fundamental in safeguarding your employability.