As you go through years of formal education, the school system periodically subjects you to a series of tests. All students know that exams are meant to gauge their level of knowledge and readiness to proceed with further learning. Yet, many also associate them with unwanted pressure and stress; the experience is considered unpleasant.
Thus, outside of the school setting, most people go on to pursue their careers and don’t undertake further assessments unless required to do so for an advanced role. But even when you’re not applying for a new job, if you take the time to initiate a self-evaluation of your skills, you may find that the exercise provides some valuable benefits.
Improving match quality
Various sources have refuted the famous theory of the 10,000-hour rule. It does apply to a select few careers, such as playing chess, golf, or classical music, but these require narrow, procedural skills. Most of us operate in fields that require a wide range of skills, and that makes variety more important than focus. Self-assessment of your skills will help you identify and improve match quality in whatever you’re doing.
Suppose you want to start a business and review your skillset. You have experience in marketing, sales, and management; however, you’re falling short in terms of financial, entrepreneurial, and interpersonal skills. Rather than coming up with a new business idea and vision, you could start a cleaning company franchise, which is a better fit for your existing abilities, while giving you the chance to catch up in other aspects.
Speeding up the learning process
When you can only spare so much time each day to learn a new skill, any means of accelerating the process is a welcome aid to reach the level of competence faster. Skill assessment accomplishes that by helping you map out related skills that will guide your progression. Using the technique of interleaving, you could start with existing skills as the anchors of your learning efforts.
For example, if you wanted to learn how to make a poster for your business, you can leverage familiarity with PowerPoint. It’s not intended for professional print design. Still, you can use it as a practice environment for learning the basics of layout and information hierarchy, creating and positioning design elements for maximum effect. Once you have a good grasp of those subskills, you can move on from PowerPoint and learn Photoshop or InDesign for final execution.
Take ownership of your development
Experiencing continued development is one of the best things we can find in the work we do. Sadly, a lot of jobs don’t offer significant opportunities in this respect. Too often, people leave it at that. You don’t have to make the mistake of letting an employer, manager, or coach take sole responsibility for your development. The exercise of evaluating your skills will keep you aware of your current level, as well as any deficiencies you might need to address. This way, you can take full ownership of your development. You can guide your efforts and continue to improve in the absence of mentorship, and your growth won’t be limited to the expertise or opportunities offered by those around you.
Though we all grow and move on from the routine and structure of our school days, don’t forget the value of an honest and thorough skill self-assessment. It might be just what you need to unlock your full career potential.