SA2 - Identifying Skills

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The purpose of this Action Guide is to help you identify your own current set of skills as well as the skills required of various professions.


Many students are unaware of, or underestimate their skills. Students also are often unsure of the skills required for various academic majors or career paths.  The word “skill” is defined as “a learned power of doing something competently: a developed aptitude or ability” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, 2010). A skill (also known as a competency) is different from a personality trait or innate quality. You may have heard of soft versus hard skills. Soft skills refer to general interpersonal skills; hard skills refer to technical competencies or expertise related to a specific job requirement.

In contrast to a skill, an interest is generally thought of as a natural curiosity or concern about something. It is helpful to understand both your interests and skills, along with your values, when making career or major decisions.

Remember that skills can be developed in many different ways: from classes, extracurricular activities, work experiences, and other activities.


Please complete both exercises.  If you prefer, you may upload a Word or PDF file below, or use your favorite drawing tool or DrawIsland to draw out your notes, save the file and upload it below.

Exercise 1: Complete the Skills Card Sort (identify your skills)

  1. Go to Card Sort and follow the directions.
  2. Rate each card by dragging and dropping it to the appropriate column. Click 'Create a New Card' if you want to create your own skill card.  
  3. Rank-order your cards in the first column (limit of 5), and record them in the spaces below for Top Skills. Print out a copy of your completed card sort if you want to save your results. (There is no option to save).

Exercise 2: Complete the O*Net Skills Search (Identify skills for various professions)

  1. Go to O*Net and complete the skills search by selecting from the list all of the skills you have or plan to acquire. If you completed the card sort activity, consider using the top 5 skills you identified. 
  2. After making your selection, click "Go". You will find a list of occupations on this page, ordered from highest to lowest match with your selected skills.
  3. For each occupation that you would like to look into further, click "skills matched." This will show the importance of the skill for the specific occupation, as well as the level of skill needed. 
  4. For the top match occupation, read it's "Career Profile" page and write down 4-5 "Job Title" examples or "Similar Careers". Click "See More Job Titles" for a list of "Similar Careers". 

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SA2: Identifying Skills