Bethan Ruddock spoke recently at the CILIP New Professionals Day 2012, on the topic of her book The New Professional’s Toolkit published recently by Facset. Although I wasn’t present for her talk, I followed events on Twitter and noticed several mentions of her advice to carry out a skills audit.
Over many years working in library recruitment I’ve noticed that people often find it hard to answer the interview question ‘what skills do you have?’ Sometimes people offer one or two software packages that they can use (an LMS or online database, for example). Often people look blank or get embarrassed and can’t think of anything.
I believe there is a clear and direct linkage between someone’s skills (proficiency acquired through training or experience) and their ability to progress in the career direction they want. This sounds obvious but, if so, why do so many CVs focus on a historical recounting of experiences and sideline or ignore skills?
I think this is because many people find it very hard to analyse themselves, to tease out what their skills really are, and to articulate those in a concise way. It is easier to say what you’ve done, rather than what you’ve got out of doing it.
So, how do you do a skills audit? As a career coach I offer people a range of exercises and worksheets to help, but in essence you need to review your experiences, and break down large chunks of experience (eg, “I do online research” or “I’ve managed an intranet”) into smaller tasks (eg, doing a reference interview, selecting online source(s), conducting searches, collating results, etc). For each of these tasks, you then need to think about what skill(s) you used to carry out each one. I find that imagining you were training a complete novice to carry out the task helps to envisage what skills you’re actually using.
Once you’ve gone through all the tasks, for each of your experiences, you will have teased out all of the skills that you have. Of course there will be duplicates where you use the same skills to accomplish different tasks, which you can weed out. To get from this (probably long) list down to your key skills, I advise people to consider both how good they are at performing each skill, and how much they enjoy using it, then tally those two to reach a ‘score’ for each skill.
This article will be published in the CILIP SW Group newsletter shortly and is reproduced here with permission.