Know Your Skills

Identifying Your Knowledge, Skills & Abilities

Employers want to know what you do well, enjoy doing and want to do in the future. They need to know why they should hire you. In order for you to be able to answer these questions for an employer, it is necessary that you identify and talk about your knowledge, skills and abilities.

It is difficult for most people to talk about their skills. In fact, almost 90% of people who are interviewed for jobs are unable to clearly state what their skills are. It is essential to your job search to know specifically what you can offer to an employer. Even though you have the necessary skill for a job, you may not get hired if you cannot communicated to an employer that you have those skills and that you are able to do them well.

Knowledge is something you have learned from education, training or experience. A skill is something you can do. An ability is a special talent or even a personality quality that you have. Knowing what your knowledge, skills and abilities are will help you:

  • Find jobs that match you
  • Interview more effectively
  • Write a better resume
  • Fill out applications properly
  • Focus your job search
  • Make satisfying career choices
  • Increase your self confidence
  • Decide if a job is right for you


Your skills are the foundation on which you build your career. All of us have hundreds of skills. We are average in some of these, whereas at others we excel. It will be easier to find jobs that you enjoy, that suit you and that you are successful at, if you know your unique combination of skills.


Job-Specific Skills
Job-specific skills are skills that you use to perform a particular task. These skills are often gained from specialized training and education or experience on the job. For example, plumbers need knowledge about how plumbing systems work. They must be familiar with the tools of the trade and have the ability to perform specific tasks, such as cutting pipe, installing fixtures, etc. Most jobs have specific skills that are necessary to the job.

Job-specific skills may also be gained through volunteer work, hobbies or home management.


Transferable Skills

Transferable skills are skills that are not unique to a particular task and that you can transfer or use from one job or career to another. Transferable skills usually involve doing something with people, data or things and can be ranked according to their complexity. More complex skills often require greater initiative, creativity and problem solving. The more complex the skill is, the less competition there is for jobs and the greater the compensation will be.

Some examples of transferable skills are supervising, analyzing, problem-solving and organizing.


Your Job Objective

If you know what your knowledge skills and abilities are, you will be able to develop your job objective. Your job objective is a simple (usually one or two sentence) statement of what you want to do. It is important to define your job objective so that you can focus your job search.

The job objective tells employers what you can do and what you want to do. Your job objective is a crucial part of finding a job. Review the JobSearch Guide, Writing a Resume.


Skills are NOT All or Nothing

Many people believe that either you have a skill or you don’t have that skill. Like a light switch, it is either on or off. Experts know that this is not true. People possess skills in varying degrees. Most of us are in the middle range on most skills, below average on some and above average on others. So when you think of skills, don’t sell yourself short just because you can name someone who possesses that skill at a higher level than you. Thank of many people whose level is less than yours.


You are Unique

Possessing a single exceptional skill does not make you special. It is your combination of average and above average skills that makes you special. Being able to accurately shoot the basketball through the net does not make an exceptional basketball player if the player cannot run fast, jump high, dribble the ball or get along with their fellow players. Remember, you are the only person in the world who has your unique set of skills. Emphasize your special combination of skills on your resume and in your job interviews.


What Employers Want

The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a report defining the skills that employers identified as necessary for employment. This was known as the SCANS report. The report divided skills into two areas, competencies and foundations. The competencies and foundation skills defined by SCANS are required for most jobs.  A detailed description of each is found in the JobSearch Guide, SCANS Competencies. They are:

Foundation Skills: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Mathematics, Listening, Speaking, Creative Thinking, Decision Making, Problem Solving, Self Esteem, Reasoning, Responsibility, Self-Management, Social Abilities, Integrity/Honesty

Competencies: Allocates Time, Allocates Money, Allocates Material and Facility Resources, Allocates Human Resources, Acquires and Evaluates Information, Organizes and Maintains Information, Interprets and Communicates Information, Uses Computers to Process Information, Participates as Member of a Team, Teaches Others, Serves Clients/Customers, Exercises Leadership, Negotiates to Arrive at a Decision, Works with Cultural Diversity, Understands Systems, Monitors and Corrects Performance, Improves and Designs Systems, Selects Technology, Applies Technology to Task, Maintains and Troubleshoots Technology.


Identifying Your Knowledge, Skills and Abilities For Your Job Search

Step 1:  Tell yourself a story about a success you had. Write down the skills you used to accomplish this.
 Step 2:  Review your life history and job history for skills.
 Step 3:  Write down which of the SCANS foundation skills and competencies you have. Complete the JobSearchGuide, SCANS, Competencies.
 Step 4:  Develop a list of your knowledge, skills and abilities.
 Step 5:  Write a job objective that states what you enjoy doing, what you are good at and what you want to do.
 Step 6:  Use this job objective and knowledge of your skills and abilities when you write a resume, fill out applications and interview for a job.







Workforce Investment Solutions of Macon and DeWitt Counties, Illinois is funded through the Workforce Investment Act.