Skills assessment refers to the process of testing your proficiency in a specific area or subject. Depending on the context, you may get different definitions of the term, but it’s usually associated with choosing a career, the job-hunting process and finding a job you are really good at.
Get to know your skills
Discovering what you are good at is a great way to learn what type of careers you are best suited for. Choosing a career requires research, exploration, self-assessment and decision-making and should only be done after a lot of careful consideration. Skills assessment can help you gain a better understanding of your values, skills and interests.
How can you assess your skills?
One of the best methods is to take a career test. Many psychometric tools can give you the information you need by helping you identify your strengths and weaknesses. The assessments measure your ability to perform specific tasks and how you react to different situations. These tests are statistically examined and designed to be objective and unbiased. As such, are quite reliable in predicting a candidate’s performance.
It’s important to take the different types of professional skills that can be tested into account. The two broad categories include:
a) Soft skills: these increase the possibility of you landing a job and are necessary in the workplace. They describe your ability to engage and interact with other people and include communication, problem-solving, organisation, teamwork, adaptability, motivation, time management and negotiation amongst others.
While they aren’t easy to identify, psychometric tools can help. The University of Kent has come up with a questionnaire of 32 statements to help you test your employability skills. It also lists some of the most important ones and how to improve them. MindTool’s free online questionnaire allows you to test time management, communication, problem-solving, decision-making, leadership and management skills.
b) Hard skills: these are job-specific technical requirements of a job. They can be measured with psychometric testing e.g. aptitude tests. Industries and skills that are often evaluated with this type of test are:
- Customer service – typing, call handling, language, literacy, comprehension
- Office administration/Secretarial/Support roles in legal or medical sectors – audio typing, data entry, spelling, shorthand
- IT – programming in various languages
- Accountancy and finance – knowledge of accounting systems and software, bookkeeping, cashbook, MS Excel
Hands-on experience, licenses, diplomas and certifications are also regarded as hard skills since they provide proof of knowledge in a specific area or field. Testing is often administrated by recruiters who are screening candidates to make sure that they can back up what their CV says.
Practice aptitude tests
There are many types of aptitudes tests and each one assesses a specific skill. According to the Institute of Psychometric Coaching, aptitude tests measure fluid and crystallised intelligence. This supports the idea that people’s intelligence is composed of a number of abilities that work together.
Fluid intelligence is the ability to think, reason abstractly and solve problems. You can think of it as the ability to ‘think on your feet’, learn new skills and gather new information. It is measured using abstract reasoning.
Crystallised intelligence refers to the ability to learn from past experiences, relevant learning and how you apply this knowledge to a work-related situation. It includes understanding written reports and instructions, producing reports and using numbers as a tool to make effective decisions. Crystallised intelligence is measured using verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, diagrammatic reasoning, spatial reasoning and mechanical reasoning.
If you want to test your abilities, the IPC offers practice aptitude tests including abstract, verbal, numerical, spatial and mechanical tests with detailed reports to help you out.
Do it yourself
If you don’t want to practice psychometric tests – or have no trust in them, there is always the choice of assessing your skills yourself. An excellent exercise is to separate them into three distinct categories:
- Abilities learned through past experiences and education (hard)
- Transferable skills that you bring with you to every job (soft)
- Personal traits that make you who you are (personality)
Using this method should help you think of your previous experience, transferable skills, and lastly your personality, to get to know yourself or simply find a job that suits you.
In search of your skills, you can come up a list that looks like this:
- Computer skills
- Web design
- Social media
- Technical writing
- Problem solving
- Time management
With this exercise, you can create a personal framework around your skills and personal characteristics. You might think it’s impossible to find the right words to describe yourself, but once you take a look at what you have done in the past, you will realise how much you have accomplished and how these experiences have helped you become who you are today. Getting the opinion of your friends, previous employers or colleagues can also be a big help.
Another great exercise is asking yourself what you know, what you like/dislike and how you can add value to it. The University of Richmond Career Services has come up with a useful skills chart that it adapted from Charting Your Career Path, Indiana University.
The chart asks you to complete activity, tasks, likes, dislikes and then identify your skills in relation to these. It can be helpful if you are struggling with realising what you are good at.
Whether you are trying to decide on a career or looking for a job, assessing your skills can help you discover your strengths and weaknesses and become more aware of what you can or can’t do. It can open up possibilities in your career trajectory that you weren’t aware of before and also help you be more realistic about your options.
Good luck and let us know how it goes in the comments section below!