Figuring Out Your Technical and Leadership Skills

This is another self-assessment where it seems like you should already know what you know how to do.

But sitting down and making a list, then determining where you are on the scale of student to craftsperson will give you insight into what you've done and what else you might be able to do.

As you move through the skills self-assessment, also pay attention to how you feel as you make your list. Add a column to indicate things you like and want to do more of and things you aren't crazy about and would rather not do again.

I happen to be excellent at cleaning popcorn machines from years of working concessions at college football and basketball games. I do not care to clean another popcorn machine.

The idea is to understand what you can do without the job titles or context of a specific job so you can see beyond the things you have done. Hopefully, you will discover things you can try next.

Determining how good you are at certain things helps you see where you might want to do some training to improve or where there might be a gap for a job you have always thought would be interesting. It will also come in handy when you put together your resume.

The chart looks like this:

Skill: List the thing you know how to do.

Description: Explain what is involved.

Example: Where/when have you used this skill?


  • Student: you are learning and on your way to basic knowledge
  • Apprentice: you have the basics down and are comfortable experimenting and exploring
  • Specialist: you know your stuff and can teach others what to do
  • Expert: you can apply your skill in new ways, handle new applications, and solve problems
  • Craftsperson: you are evolving what you know into new ideas and approaches

Validation: Check with someone familiar with your work using this skill to see what level they would put you in.

It's most helpful to ask someone who will tell you the truth with love and good humor. If you are having a bad day and need a boost, ask someone you know will say you are awesome. Then discount accordingly.

Here's an example for the skill of bathing a puppy

Skill Description Example Level Validation Do More?

Puppy bathing

Selecting a shampoo that's not too smelly and won't freak them out.

determining a safe place to bathe where it's okay to get everything and everyone wet

distracting the puppy while you lather and rinse.

sanitary grooming, aka poopy butt bath anticipating and getting out of the way of the shake

having a safe place for drying and zoomies

Just now in the kitchen sink


John S.

Make appointment with groomer.

Technical Skills

Your technical skills are the things you know how to do. Many of them you don't even think about anymore because they are second nature.

You don't think about the steps and coordination for tying a shoe. You just tie it.

But it requires moving strings in a specific sequence and checking to make sure you don't trip on the aglets (those plastic things on the end of a shoestring—I just like the word).

The places that you don't even think about will have good stuff, so spend time breaking things down into the important pieces in this self-assessment.

Also don't limit yourself to "work" skills. If you know how to knit, you know how to repeat and vary patterns in linear rows to create the result you want using a binary on or off selection. These are the same skills that developers and computer engineers use to write code using 1's and 0's.

Leadership Skills

A self-assessment of your leadership skills is a little harder. These are not only the "works well with others" skills, but also whether you can motivate, inspire, earn trust, take responsibility, listen, think strategically, guide and encourage, manage projects, make tough calls, and hold people accountable.

There lists on the internet if you are struggling to think of what your leadership skill are.

Fill out the same chart only for your leadership skills. Again, ask someone to validate your level of expertise.

Also, check-in with yourself about what you like and don't like. For example, I would much rather do work that involves making and creating than managing other people's work. I love to teach though, which is a kind of leadership in a different context.

As you work through your self-assessments, stay open to discover that you know how to do a lot more than you think and start to imagine what else you can do with all those skills.

Read on for more ways to make your job search a success: Self-Assessment the Skills Inventory

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