What comprises a skill set? We often associate our skill set with the functional skills or expertise required for a specific job, role, or profession. But this lens is too narrow; it does not capture the full scope of reality. Ourskills are in fact continuously developing and expanding over the course of our lives.
Our evolving skills develop from every activity and every experience we have. We can become more aware of the range of skills we possess by regularly reflecting on our experiences and identifying and keeping track of our skills. Regularly reviewing and defining the value of our skill set at different stages of our lives, and learning how all of this can be applied to the different work roles we may want to engage in.
Reflecting, gathering information, and identifying and describing your evolving skill set.
Most of us will experience more than one career in our lifetime, by choice or necessity. And increasingly we are told that a flexible and adaptive skill set is necessary for work and careers in the 21st century.
Whether you are a young adult developing a career path, or in mid-career and have more significant work experience, regular reflective practice can help to identify the extent, expansion, and evolution of your skill set, and to assess the value and the possibilities within that skill set.
Here are a few examples:
What kinds of work, volunteer, training, or educational experiences have I had? Are they similar? Are they very different?
What did I learn about myself in these roles/jobs/tasks?
In what ways did I grow personally and professionally from these experiences?
What did I enjoy and why? What kind of experience was this for me?
What was personally meaningful about the job, the role, or the experience?
What was valuable about the job or role? What have I carried forward?
What was challenging for me and why? Have I experienced these challenges in other settings?
What do I notice about how I work? What do I focus on? What do I pay attention to?
Can I name and describe some of my natural skills? What am I good at? Do these natural skills show up in every job/experience I have had? In what ways?
Can I name and describe some of the specific skills I have learned in these different settings? Have I used these learned skills in other settings?
Which skills (natural and learned) seem more flexible or transferrable?
What have I learned about certain organizations, jobs, or professions from my experiences? What new perspectives have I gained about the job market or changes to the job market?
Do I have a better idea of how my skills are developing and the kind of work environments I am well-suited for? Are there specific work environments I would like to experience going forward?
Am I a team player, or am I more suited to more solitary work? Do I like a fast-paced work environment that requires me to pivot frequently? Am I more effective when there is structure around me and specific tasks to accomplish?
What expertise, skills, or perspectives could I carry forward into my next role/job?
What skills and/or expertise do I now want to develop further?
What would I like to be focused on day to day? Specific projects or tasks, societal or community issues, working with, assisting, or helping people, leading, or managing teams?
How do I want to work? In-person, out in the field, on a team, independently with some supervision and deadlines, independently, in partnership, a hybrid that allows me to work from home?
Reviewing your answers
What do you notice? Are there recurring themes?
Are you starting to get a clearer picture of your skills at this stage in your life?
Are you starting to notice how you work, what kinds of environments you want to engage in and are well suited for, and why?
Can you identify and describe the value of your skill set at this stage in your life?
What is meaningful to you, what interests and motivates you, at this stage in your life?
How have your skills changed and expanded? How would you describe the range of skills you possess at this stage in your life?
What possibilities do you see for yourself? What are you curious about?
Where would you like to start? What would be one next step?
Reflecting on our experiences and monitoring the development of our skills is an exercise we can and should practice regularly during our working lives.