Your skillset determines a lot about your life. From the type of job you thrive in to the relationships you make, it influences the challenges and opportunities you’ll encounter.
Like how your attention to detail makes you the go-to for anything involving spreadsheets. Or how that impressive memory of yours means everyone wants you on their trivia team.
Leaning into whatever your strengths are can make life easier and more enjoyable.
By identifying your skills, you can make better choices about what career path to take and what sort of life you want to live — be it raising a family on a quiet farm or pursuing a modeling career in New York City.
It’s not always easy to recognize what you are good at, though. Especially when the skill comes naturally to you. But when it comes to things like writing a resume or successfully organizing your life, you need to know!
Learn how to identify your skills with these ten expert tips.
1. What skills has life taught you?
Everything we do in life requires skills.
Getting a dog teaches you responsibility. Learning how to drive teaches you to pay attention and think proactively. Raising children forces you to develop patience and time management skills.
And this is just a small sample of all the skills we develop just from living our lives.
We develop our skills whenever we cook, pay bills, or even use our cell phones or computers.
So, think about your everyday life and analyze what skills you have learned.
2. What do you like doing?
How you spend your time tells you a lot about your skills. So what do you do in your free time?
Are you more likely to be working on a project around the house or meeting up with friends for drinks?
Tackling those DIY projects suggests you have skills in problem-solving, creativity, and hands-on craftsmanship while socializing with friends showcases your interpersonal, communication, and networking abilities.
3. What are you passionate about?
Similarly, think about your interests and passions. What would you like to do if you had the time, money, and resources? You know, that whole “what would you do if you didn’t have to work” mentality.
Your choice can help you determine your skills.
For example, if you have a passion for photography, it might highlight your attention to detail, creativity, and possibly even technical skills.
Or, if you’re enthusiastic about community service or volunteering, it could indicate excellent interpersonal skills, teamwork, and empathy.
4. What did you do when you were younger?
Think back to what interested you when you were younger. Did you spend time drawing and coloring or building Lego houses? Or did you prefer playing outside in the mud, studying the different bugs and plants? After school, were you at football or band practice?
Although your interests change over time, your past can give you clues about your natural skills.
I’ve been writing in one way or another for most of my life. Those little stories I wrote as a kid and the blog I started in high school undoubtedly led me to my current career as a writer and editor for major media outlets.
Likewise, the things you dreaded as a kid can indicate skills you probably don’t have. You might not have strong collaboration skills if you hated group projects or team sports. Or if you preferred structured activities (like solving math problems or following step-by-step instructions) versus imaginative ones (like storytelling or playing make-believe), you may be more logical than creative.
5. What do other people say?
It’s hard to judge yourself. Having a perfectly organized and labeled kitchen pantry might seem normal to you, but most of us aren’t that organized.
The people in your life know you and, therefore, know your talents. Your close friends and family can help you pinpoint skills you might not realize you have.
We are often too hard on ourselves and downplay our best qualities. But others see us for who we are. If you asked my mom, I’m sure she would tell you I’d still be writing today.
So, ask for feedback from trusted colleagues, family, friends, or mentors on your skills and areas of expertise. You may be pleasantly surprised by what they have to say.
6. What skills did your education and training teach you?
Hopefully your education taught you plenty of different skills. While I doubt you need to know quadratic equations and Shakespeare sonnets in your day to day life, school taught you a lot of valuable skills. These include:
- English: Effective communication, persuasive writing, public speaking
- Mathematics: Analytical reasoning, numerical problem solving
- Science: Critical thinking, hypothesis formulation
- History: Research proficiency
- Physical Education: Coordination, teamwork
- Art: Creativity, visual expression
- Music: Discipline, focus
- Foreign Language: Linguistic proficiency, cultural awareness
- Computers: Digital literacy, operating systems, typing
- Home Economics: Practical life skills, including culinary skills and financial literacy
If you went to college, you would have learned skills related to your major, such as:
- Computer Science: Coding proficiency, algorithmic problem-solving, systems analysis
- Psychology: Analytical thinking, research methodology, empathy, active listening
- Business Administration: Strategic planning, data analysis, leadership
- Biology: Lab research techniques, data interpretation, scientific writing
- Marketing: Market analysis, consumer behavior understanding, campaign planning
- Engineering: Problem-solving, project management, technical design
- Communication Studies: Effective communication, media analysis, presentation skills
- Environmental Science: Sustainability practices, data collection, environmental policy analysis
- Finance: Financial analysis, risk management, investment strategy
- Art History: Visual analysis, critical thinking, contextual interpretation
You can also take plenty of training courses to develop your skills, ranging from first aid training to public speaking to conflict resolution classes.
Thanks to YouTube videos and online tutorials, learning skills on your own – like setting up a WordPress site or re-tiling your bathroom – has never been easier. Just because you didn’t learn it in a classroom doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. The skills you learn from your hobbies and side hustles count, too.
7. What skills are part of your industry?
Look at job descriptions for jobs like yours and the LinkedIn profiles of your peers within your field. What skills were mentioned? It could be soft skills like adaptability, imagination, and punctuality or hard skills like carpentry, video editing, and network security.
Your skills and experience may not be exactly the same, but they should align with them.
If there’s anything you’re missing, that’s something you’ll want to address. Can you take online classes or training programs your employer offers to learn the missing skill?
8. What are your job responsibilities?
Make a list of your responsibilities in each of your previous jobs. This will help you understand the scope of your work and the skills they taught you.
For example, if you worked as a Sales Representative, your responsibilities may include:
- Conducting sales pitches and presentations (communication)
- Identifying and pursuing new sales opportunities (prospecting)
- Building and maintaining client relationships (relationship management)
- Negotiating contracts and closing deals (negotiation)
- Providing product knowledge and information to customers (product expertise)
- Maintaining customer satisfaction (interpersonal skills)
- Order processing (organizational skills)
Or, for an Administrative Assistant:
- Managing phone calls and correspondence (communication)
- Scheduling appointments and meetings (organizational skills)
- Coordinating office activities and operations (time management)
- Handling basic bookkeeping and record-keeping (detail oriented)
- Providing information and assistance to clients or colleagues (customer service)
- Collaborating with various departments for administrative support (teamwork)
Don’t forget about the specific hard skills you have learned. These may include:
- Microsoft Office Suite
- Programming languages such as Python and Java
- Data analysis tools like Excel or SQL
- Graphic design software such as Adobe Creative Suite
- Project management tools like Jira or Trello
Knowing how to use these tools and programs will give you a competitive edge, so they’re equally important to identify.
9. What have you accomplished?
While you’re revisiting your previous job duties, think about the specific accomplishments you achieved in each role.
These might include things like meeting or exceeding targets, implementing new processes or systems, or leading successful projects. Then, figure out what skills you used to accomplish these things.
Was there a lot of decision-making involved? Were you in charge of a team? Did you have strict deadlines to follow?
Personal accomplishments can also unveil a lot about your abilities.
Achieving a goal like running a marathon demonstrates commitment. Fundraising for the local animal shelter shows compassion. Launching a side business exemplifies entrepreneurship and resourcefulness. These are all skills employers love to see on your resume.
10. Have you tried taking a personality test?
Numerous free online skill assessment tools offer quizzes, tests, or interactive exercises to help you identify and quantify your skills.
Personality tests like the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Strong Interest Inventory (SII) are designed to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. While they aren’t perfect, they can provide insights into your preferences and character traits.
Even those silly BuzzFeed quizzes might reveal some admirable quirks you have!
So What Are You Skilled At?
Your unique set of skills shapes your entire life. The things you learn through daily experiences, formal education, and your hobbies contribute to your success.
So take the time to reflect on your life, seek feedback from those who know you best, and use the available tools to identify what exactly your skills are. In the end, you should have a long list of all of the things that you excel at. Armed with this self-awareness, you can make informed choices, whether steering your career path or shaping the kind of life you aspire to lead.
You are an incredibly talented person! Don’t be afraid to embrace your potential and thrive in life, not just survive.
Amanda Kay, the founder of My Life, I Guess, provides valuable career advice and support for anyone striving to make a living and, more importantly, make a life. Whether it's navigating job searches, learning new skills, overcoming unemployment, or dealing with debt, My Life, I Guess has been a go-to resource for career guidance and financial stability since 2013. Amanda's expertise and relatable approach have been featured in trusted publications such as MSN, Credit.com, Yahoo! Finance, the Ladders and Fairygodboss.