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  • Cindy Lee

What are you skilled to do?

[THIS POST IS PART OF A SERIES ON NAVIGATING YOUR CAREER TRANSITION WITH INTEGRITY, WHICH IS OPPOSITE FROM YOUR TYPICAL "BACKWARDS" APPROACHES TO JOB SEARCHING.] The two concepts we’ve covered so far – core values and personality – are deep-rooted facets of you. They’re typically constant as you grow older, though can be influenced by life-altering experiences (eg, birth of a child, moving to another city, disappointment, deep embarrassment about something, death of a loved one, being oppressed). The next one we’ll explore is actually expected to change as we grow and can be taught/trained – these are your SKILLS.


As I said last time, core values reflect WHY you do something and personality is one component of HOW you would do it. Skills is another component that reflects HOW, and it’s particularly helpful in capturing if you CAN do something.


In the context of job searching, and to do so with integrity, you’ll want to accurately portray who you are NOW as a candidate and in the future as you grow in the role.


EXERCISE: what CAN you do?


In your notebook, by now you should have two columns – CORE VALUES and PERSONALITY. Create a new column immediately to the right of the PERSONALITY list from last week, and label it SKILLS. If you’ve assessed your skillset recently such as in an aptitude test, list them here.


At the bottom of this list, also include those skills that you desire to gain but haven’t yet.

Some parameters to consider (these are not all-encompassing):

  • competency: this refers to having sufficient skill, knowledge, etc.; capable and adequate, but nothing particularly exceptional. Eg, conversational in Russian; versed in MS Office; 125wpm typing speed; detail-oriented.

  • proficiency: beyond competency, this refers to being well-advanced or learned in a subject or skill. Eg, fluent in Spanish; proficient in C++; expert in social media platforms; strong record of managing high-performing teams.

  • aptitude: this refers to an inherent ability to learn or pick up some new concept/skill. Eg, comfortable with change; thrive in dynamic environments; adapt easily to new cultures; communicate effectively with internal and external stakeholders.

Many skills grow with you as you gain experience and responsibility, and people can have certain expectations of you at a certain point in your career path. You’ll want to accurately assess where you are on that progression, so you can perform well at the right level.


EXAMPLE: the growth progression of “communication skills”

  • A teenager’s first job – ability to exchange information with others and understand direction/orders from a superior

  • A new college grad’s entry-level job – ability to convey important thoughts in a clear and organized fashion

  • An experienced professional – ability to express what’s necessary to various stakeholders in a way that enables important decisions to be made

  • Management role – ability to convey affirming information or difficult decisions in a timely way, and with impact and influence

  • Executive-level job – ability to cast a vision and influence large groups to action

This exercise helps you identify your various levels of ability, and with that clarity you may begin to identify the types of opportunities to pursue within a certain range of your skillset.


There are some pitfalls to avoid in this exercise, which I’ll share in the next post. For now, spend the week adding to and refining this list of your SKILLS, which combine with your CORE VALUES and PERSONALITY to reflect your unique candidacy to any new opportunity.

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