Analyze Your Skills and Job Options

Want to be an astronaut or a baker or a carpenter? Perhaps you'd prefer to be a chef or a pilot or a successful entrepreneur? Choosing your options is never going to be that easy; what you need is to collate the things you are good at with the things you enjoy doing and then see where that leads you. Analyze your skills first, think about what you want to use, then choose your job options. Think about your life, and your future, and like a tree, see where the branches lead to from what you have done, and what you still want to do with your life.


  1. Analyze your skills by listing your top ten achievements or career events that you are most proud of. You should do this by looking at your achievements, which are your richest source of information providing concrete and tangible evidence of what you have done so far. Use an active verb at the beginning of the phrase, and you’ll hear how much more powerful it sounds.
  2. Ask yourself exactly what you did (try: where did I start?) Then think about what happened next (or perhaps - what did I say?).
  3. Consider what skills you used when you did the thing you achieved (how did I do that? What did I need to do it?) You'll end up with very clear statements of your real capabilities.
  4. List all of your skills so you can rate them for transferability; most of your skills will transfer to another job quite easily. Think not just "how good am I?" but ask "how much do I enjoy this?" The skills that score most highly on both counts are your most transferable skills and you will be able to use them in many different settings. Write them down (score them out of 10 then add up); the highest skills analysis scores are the ones you can use in your self-marketing statements to best effect.
  5. Draw yourself a square box. Divide this box into four by drawing a horizontal line across the middle and a vertical line up through the middle. The horizontal line we're going to call "Enjoy Doing" with a scale running from left to right. The vertical line we're going to call "Good At" with the scale running from bottom to top; what we've got now is a 2 x 2 quadrant so admired by MBAs.
    • At the top left we've got high "Good At" with low "Enjoy Doing" so this is often where we've developed a high level of skill to deal with a task that's unavoidable but we don't want to do any more than is strictly necessary. Some people who don't manage their careers too well often end up here because their organizations push them to where they're seen to be good. Think about the Finance Assistant who ends up as an unwilling Credit Controller because he had some success getting some bills paid.
    • Lower left is where too many people find themselves job wise - doing something they don't enjoy and are not particularly good at. This is where necessity and stress sometimes come head-to-head, causing regular sick-leave. You'd be advised to try to change this if it's you.
    • Lower right is where enjoyment is high but skill not necessarily so. The person who enjoys amateur dramatics may be an example or a spare-time painter or the average DIYer.
    • The small square at the top right is where the high scales of "Good At" and "Enjoy Doing" end up, and this is where we all want to be. Success usually springs from enjoying and being good at something, but only if you want to repeat it. To choose your options bear this in mind and don't start with a job title. Instead start with the ingredients of a successful role, based on your honest appraisal of what you enjoy and want to do, plus an objective view of what you are good at and can replicate.


  • These can relate to unpaid as well as to paid work and also to leisure activities. Ask yourself this: do your successes tend to involve just your own work or that of others? In other words, are you most effective when in a team? Are they mostly to do with work or are there some from other parts of your life? Can you detect a theme to your achievements and if so, what is it?
  • For example:
    • Convinced colleagues of the need to change working practices
    • Launched the new product line in record time
    • Reduced supply costs by 15%
    • Taught my dad how to use his new computer
    • Secured a 10% increase in sales by...
    • Raised lots of money for a local charity through a new fund-raising event.
    • Completed a two year part-time MBA course while balancing work and family commitments
  • An achievement is something that you have done which has made a difference to you or to others. You may have done it on your own or with and through others. It is not necessarily momentous or world-shattering, but will be something that you feel good about. It doesn't matter whether it comes from your "official" job or some other activity. If you've achieved something, you have used a level of skill which could be a valuable job skill elsewhere.


  • If you think you might be lacking in some essential skill area, one other thing you just might want to consider is: should I set out to learn a new skill now?

Related Articles