How to Assess Your Skills and Talents for Career Growth

How to Assess Your Skills and Talents for Career Growth - flag with the word explore on a hardwood floor

At Team AO, we say that career development is all about ‘enjoyability’ and ’employability’. Key to both is an assessment of your skills, strengths and talents. It enables you to identify what you have that makes you a great person to have in an organisation and what areas you may need to develop to make progress in your career.

In my last blog post I looked at why it’s important to assess your career skills and talents.  In this post, I’ll share my thoughts on how to carry out that assessment with career growth in mind.

Self-assessment involves reflecting on your everyday activities to gain an understanding of your strengths. It can be as formal as taking a personality assessment, or as informal as talking to friends and family about your work and life experiences. You might also want to draw on a mentor, career coach, or another advisor as you work through what you discover and put your knowledge into action. Let’s look at the different activities you can carry out to help your self-assessment, helping you plan towards your development and career growth.

1. Reflect on your past and current roles

Look at the positions that you have held, what concrete skills, talents, knowledge, and abilities have you acquired through education, professional development and work experience?

Think about the skills that are required to do your job effectively. You might find it helpful to think about the difference in skills between someone who would do your job well and someone who would do it poorly.

Now think of two or three examples where you demonstrated each skill in action. If you look closely, you will usually find that within each example there are a host of other related skills you employed. For instance, you might have written down “negotiation skills when dealing with a supplier”, but when you break it down you may also reveal relationship-building skills, conflict management and flexibility.

2. What do you know?

People often underestimate their knowledge and how it can be of use to an employer and therefore fuel career growth. This could range from applied technical know-how, to knowledge about a particular product, service, sector or type of customer. Are you up to date with the level of understanding required? If not, make this an immediate goal.

3. How have you added value?

How have you helped your organisation generate income, reduce costs, solve problems and improve the quality of its service? Your contribution may have been as an individual or as part of a team. Include it all. Have you met or exceeded your individual and/or team targets at work? Do you have access to people, information and resources that could be of benefit?

4. Ask for feedback

Supplement your self-assessment with feedback from others who know you in a professional context, such as your manager, colleagues, business contacts or a career coach. What strengths do your superiors, colleagues and direct reports identify in you? What do they think you excel at?  Look at some of your performance reviews if you have access to them. What did your managers say you did well?

Although those giving feedback will all have different perspectives or agendas, there will be areas of consistency, which are likely to be part of a shared picture that others may have about you. If these differ from your own self-perception, then at least you’re aware of it and can do something about it.

5. Reflect on your interests and activities outside of work

Career growth isn’t always erelated to skills you develop at work. You can also learn about where and how you excel by reflecting on your interests and activities outside of work. Identifying the interests and activities that you pursue outside work can help you to learn more about yourself, including the roles and situations you enjoy. 

Obvious examples include sport, leisure activities, hobbies and socialising.  However, interests and activities can also include voluntary work, care or other work within the family, political activity, membership of clubs and societies, including taking responsibility for organisation or committees within such clubs, positions of responsibility on committees.

6. Psychometric Tests

There are a range of psychometric tests you can take to help you identify your strengths. The Strengths Finder Test is a good one to check out. It is now known as the CliftonStrengths assessment and is featured in the book, Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath.  The test helps you identify your top strengths with an emphasis on career-related abilities.

Assessing your strengths in the workplace should be a part of your career strategy. If you have never assessed your strengths, take action now.

Once your assessment is completed, you should have a much more detailed idea about what it is you have to offer your organisation and you can evaluate opportunities that will allow you to leverage your strengths, develop new skills and supercharge your career growth opportunities.

‘Identifying Your Career Skills and Talents’ is one of the topics we cover in our Career Lab Series.  Find out more at https://antoinetteoglethorpe.com/services/career-conversations/career-lab-series/

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