Career planning: How do I know what I’m good at?


Identifying your skills can set your career on the right path. Read SEMLEP’s Enterprise Advisers top tips to identify your skills.

Want to find your dream job? Before starting your job search, it’s worthwhile to take a step back and identify your key skills, available support and opportunities. By identifying your employment skills you’ll gain confidence, self-worth and understand the value you can bring to an organisation – all will help you to ace the interview.

What do we mean by employment skills? Your employment skills are your behaviours, attitudes, core competencies (e.g. communication, time management, leadership) and technical/vocational skills (specific to the job).

Here are three ways to identify your skills.

Past achievements

Think about a past achievement that you’re proud of, such as cooking a new meal, completing a project, passing an exam, etc.

Then, consider what qualities you have that made it happen.

For instance, with cooking a meal, you needed to be curious to find a recipe that interested you, organised to get the ingredients sorted and creative to bring it all together.

To complete a project, you needed to be proactive to get the project started, well organised while working with colleagues/classmates, creative to develop ideas and problem solve and communicative to present your findings.

Write down one to three past achievements, underneath, list the skills that you used or developed within the task. From this, start a list of your key skills that you feel confident if using.

Hobbies and interests

Think about the hobbies and interests you have away from education or work.

What do you do well in those hobbies and interests? What do others taking part in those activities value in you?

For example, if you play a team sport such as football, your fellow team members may value your leadership during games or your contribution to teamwork. If you take part in a local drama group, your peers may value your charisma or creativity.

Stuck for ideas? Ask your peers. Talking to your peers is a great way to identify your skills and the value you bring to tasks.

Facing obstacles

Think about a time where something hasn’t worked so well, was there a particular part of a task or activity that you struggled with?

Everyone has skills they are working on and would like to be better at.Blog post | Career planning: How do I know what I’m good at?

Use this reflection to try to identify some of the attributes that you think could have made you more successful in the activity you were trying to do.

There are lots of ways to grow skills that will make you successful in the workplace, for example signing up to a course, taking part in volunteering, learning a new hobby will all help you to learn new skills and new things about yourself that will give you lots to talk about in applications and interviews.

Remember, not getting it right the first time, but working on that is a skill in itself is called resilience and it’s really valued by employers.

I’ve listed my skills, what next?

Now that you know your employment-skills, it’s time to identify your opportunities and access local support.

The South East Midlands currently has the highest number of vacancies per hundred working age residents in the workforce [Institute for Employment Studies, Monthly vacancy analysis: Vacancy trends to week-ending 13 September 2020] Showing that despite the pandemic, local career opportunities are available.

If you want further support to find employment, take a look at our Define Your Career initiative to access a network of local, national and regional support: