Know Your Skills

A skill is the ability to do a certain task well. Skills can be a natural ability and can also be learned over time. You can gain or expand your skills with practice or training. It is important to assess your skills at all phases of your career since you develop new skills at work, school, and through extracurricular activities.

There are different ways to group your skills.

  • Technical skills: These skills are specific to occupations. Welders need to work with special equipment. Nurses need to understand medical terms. The descriptions of occupations will list required skills. Find more information about occupations by using the Occupational Outlook Handbook .
  • Transferable skills: These are skills that can be used in almost every industry and in a lot of different jobs. There is a short list of common transferable skills on the next page, but you should explore other online skill assessments.
  • Soft Skills: These are behavioral competencies. They include skills such as communication, social graces/manners, problem solving, critical thinking, conflict resolution, negotiation, teamwork, optimism, friendliness, work ethic, time management and personal habits. You can take the Soft Skills Inventory (pdf) to rate your skills.


Common Technical and Transferable Skills
Read over these skills and think if you already have or need to learn any of them. Start your skill assessment by looking at these groups and filling out the Match Your Skills to Occupations (pdf). Ask people close to you for feedback.  

Skill Set Description Examples
Basic Skills These are skills needed by almost all workers. These skills are very important to have. Reading and writing, for example, are basic skills that may help get you into a good job. Not having these skills can keep you out of a good job.
  • Be able to follow directions
  • Listen well
  • Read for Information
  • Synthesize information
  • Be punctual
  • Be honest
  • Be active
  • Count, Work with numbers
  • Be organized
  • Be able to remember
  • Analyze
  • Understand spatial reasoning
  • Visualize
  • Generate Ideas
People Skills These are some of the most needed and wanted skills. They're sometimes called "soft skills." These skills help people work well with others.
  • Deal with Feelings
  • Coordinate with others
  • Help others
  • Initiate Change
  • Persuade
  • Teach others
  • Teach, Train
  • Mediate
  • Be cheerful
  • Interview for information
  • Be cooperative
  • Have patience
  • Be diplomatic
  • Be tolerant
  • Be generous
Management Skills All workers need these skills, not just managers. Employers hire people who can keep track of projects, money, and their time.
  • Budget
  • Observing
  • Supervising
  • Estimating
  • Evaluating
  • Acting as liaison
  • Expediting
  • Taking directions
  • Planning, Organizing
  • Listening skills
  • Making decisions
  • Motivating
  • Researching
  • Negotiating
Technical Skills Technology includes computers and equipment. Computers are common in most workplaces. People in all occupations should know how to work with technology.
  • Manual jobs
  • Planting, Cultivating
  • Host/Hostess
  • Making arrangements
  • Mechanical
  • Carpentry
  • Portraying images
  • Producing skilled crafts
  • Staging shows
  • Transporting
  • Nurse
  • Composing music
  • Entertaining, Performing
  • Classifying
  • Maintaining records
  • Preparing food
  • Designing
  • Writing, Proofreading, Editing
  • Selling
  • Tending animals

You can explore different skills and take free skills assessments online at:

NJCAN Skills
LifeWork Transitions


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