Skills - How Aware Are You Of What You Can Do?

Recently while waiting in line to be served at the supermarket I overheard the checkout operator comment to a customer that she had no skills; "that's why I'm working here!" As I moved forward in the queue I observed the range of skills she was displaying; customer service, cash handling and computer operation to name a few.

Sometimes, we become so familiar with our work routines that we lose sight of the skills we have that make them happen; we take ourselves and our abilities for granted. Every day in paid and unpaid employment we use a combination of skills to carry out tasks. Recognising these skills allows us to monitor stability and progress, evaluate the direction we are moving in, review our options, make conscious decisions, and take appropriate action.

There are a number of techniques available that can help us identify our skills, some of which require the assistance of a Career Counsellor. Others we can do on our own; let's look at one of these methods.

At the end of each working day, reflect on the tasks you undertook during the day and record them in an exercise book or computer document. Include tasks that are performed occasionally throughout the year such as; stock taking, balancing your cheque book or relieving in a different position.

Once you have completed your list, consider what skills were used in performing the tasks. You will probably find that some skills are repeated regularly. Do this for 2-4 weeks (4 weeks is better).

You can take the process a step further by rating your skills. Self rating - though potentially an uncomfortable experience - is effective and very much worth your while.

First, decide on a rating scale, such as 1-9 (use odd numbers so you can't sit on the fence.)

Once you have identified and rated your skills, you are in a better position to determine whether any of them warrant further development.

Skills development can be done formally or informally. Formal strategies would require undertaking a course at vocational or university level. A more informal approach might involve exploring possible performance based strategies with your employer; a self directed programme; or volunteering with a community organisation.

(C) 2006 Craig Birrell

Words by Craig Birrell

Posted on 26 July 2006