Knowing Yourself: Skills


All skills are important, particularly for your work-life success. Communication skills are overall the highest ranking cluster of skills. Research suggests that a job candidate with good communication skills could be selected for a position over a candidate with strong leadership skills or professional experiences.

Most people have hundreds of skills that they take for granted. For example, when you cook you utilize problem solving and planning and organizational skills. Problem solving comes into play when you are deciding what to cook, particularly if you have to substitute ingredients. Planning and organizing is necessary to make sure the food is ready at the right time and in the right sequence.


When driving, literally hundreds of skills are at play all at one time. Drivers are constantly using perceptual skills to receive and interpret messages by sight, sound, touch, and smell to react quickly to road hazards and determine any counter tactics. A skier uses four types of movements whether on flat terrain or skiing downhill: balancing, edging, rotary and pressure control movements. Source:

Part of knowing yourself is understanding your unique skill set. Each of us is better at some things than at others and you should know where your skills lie on the ability spectrum. Which of the following skills do you possess?

The basic skills are reading, writing, math, speaking, and listening:

  • Reading: Identifying relevant facts, locating information in books/manuals, computers, and other technology, finding meanings of unknown words, and judging the accuracy of reports or other information.
  • Writing: Communicating ideas completely and accurately in written documents with proper grammar, spelling, and punctation.
  • Math: Using mathematics, tables, graphs, and charts to solve problems and communicate information.
  • Speaking: Selecting appropriate language, tone of voice, and gestures for the particular audience. You will not use the same language, tone of voice, or gestures when meeting one-on-one with a co-worker as you would when addressing supervisors in a video conference call.
  • Listening: Responding appropriately to another person and noting his or her tone of voice and body language.

Thinking skills are creativity, problem-solving, decision making, and visualization:

  • Creativity: Using imagination freely, combining ideas and information in new and different ways, making connections between ideas that seem unrelated.
  • Problem-solving: Recognizing a problem, creating and implementing a solution, watching to see how well the solution works, and adjusting as needed.
  • Decision making: Identifying goals, gathering information and generating alternatives, weighing pros and cons, choosing best alternatives, and executing a plan.
  • Visualization: Imagine building an object or system from a bluepring or drawing.

fotolia_86393246People skills are social, negotiation, leadership, teamwork, and cultural diversity:

  • Social: Showing understanding, friendliness, and respect for the feelings of others, asserting oneself when appropriate, taking an interest in what people say and why think and act as they do.
  • Negotiation: Identifying common goals among different poeple, clearly presenting one’s position to the group, understanding other people’s positions, examining possible options, and making reasonable compromises.
  • Leadership: Communicating your thoughts and feelings to justify a position, encouraging or convincing others, making postive use of rules or values, demonstrating the ability to have others believe in and trust you because of your competence and honesty.
  • Teamwork: Contributing to a group with ideas and effort, doing your own share of the work, encouraging team members, resolving differences for the benefit of the team, and responsibly challenging existing procedures, policies, or authorities.
  • Cultural Diversity: Working well with people of various ethnic, social, or educational backgrounds, understanding the cultural differences of different groups of people, and helping the people in these groups make cultural adjustments when necessary.

Personal qualities are self-esteem, self-management, and responsibility:

  • Self-esteem: Understanding that beliefs affect how a person feels and acts, listening and identifying irrational or harmful beliefs you may have, and understanding how to change them for the positive.
  • Self-management: Assessing one’s own knowledge and skills accurately, setting specific, realistic, and personal goals, and monitoring progress toward your goals.
  • Responsibility: Working hard to reach goals, even if the journey is unpleasant, doing quality work, and displaying high standards of attendance, honesty, energy, and optimism.

Source: “Comparative Analysis of Soft Skills: What is Important for New Graduates?” Crawford, Lang, Fink, Dalton & Fielitz (2011), page 9.

Now, get to it . . .


This Blog/Web Site is made available by me, an attorney licensed to practice law in CT. I am not a recruiter, hiring manager, or career agent. Nor am I an expert in any of the areas or issues related to job search activities. I am merely sharing my job search experiences with you. This Blog/Web Site is designed to provide accurate information on the subjects covered but should not be considered professional or legal advice.

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