Are Your Skills Outdated?

By Gerald Walsh ©

I’d like you to think about your skills and abilities and answer honestly: If you had to change jobs, could you compete effectively against other people in the job market?

Today’s exercise will help you answer this question. But before doing so, a quick note:

The words “skills” and “abilities” are often used interchangeably. For most people, skills are thought of as talents that are learned or acquired through training or actual hands-on experience. Abilities, are thought of as innate talents: things you do naturally. For now, let’s not worry about making a fine distinction between skills and abilities. Both are “must haves” for your career.

Most successful people have high self-awareness. As a result, they have a good (and accurate) understanding of their skills and abilities. They know that to succeed in their jobs and move ahead in their careers, they must be able to identify those qualities that allow them to improve.

On the other hand, people who lack self-awareness often fail to grow and improve because they are unable to isolate what is holding them back. They don’t know their shortcomings.

Once you have a firm grasp of your skills and abilities – and assuming you have the motivation to work on them – there is almost no limit to the progress you can make. That’s why this exercise, though simple, is very effective.

Key questions to answer include: Should you focus more on these strengths and only seek jobs that play to your strengths? Should you seek ways to improve in areas where you are weak? Should you avoid jobs where your weaknesses might materially undermine your performance?

Below, you will find a list of over 100 skills and abilities. While this is a long list, it may not be absolutely comprehensive. So, go ahead and add others to the list as you wish.

Your task is to rate yourself on each skill, using a rating system of:

Skill is well-developed (+)

Skill is under-developed (-)

Not sure (NS), or

Not relevant (NR) if you will never use this skill anywhere.

Once you have completed the exercise, take some time and think about it. Here are questions you should consider and if necessary be able to answer in a job interview:


What are the top five skills and abilities that describe me the best?

How have I applied these skills and abilities in previous jobs?

Which of my skills and abilities are outdated or under-developed?

Do I need to work on these to remain competitive?


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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. During a 25+ year career, he has interviewed more than 10,000 job candidates, completed hundreds of successful searches for a range of organizations and guided many individuals – from young professionals to senior executives – to successful career change. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @@Gerald_Walsh and LinkedIn.