Take Stock of Yourself with a Skill Inventory

Career Blog

Published: March 15, 2021 by Jillian Collins

Being able to identify (and discuss) your skills and strengths is a really important aspect of job-hunting. But how do you find these qualities in yourself? If you’re stuck, you’re in luck! Information is your super power. Now it’s time to concentrate on information about you. The skill of creating a Skill Inventory!

Shout out (again) to Scott Brown!

Scott Brown, Oracle cybrarian and SJSU iSchool instructor, covers the Skill Inventory exercise as part of the work done in INFO 282 Marketing your LIS skills in a Networked and Changing World. You pair it with your Personal Brand Assessment, and begin to see where you fit – and why you are a great fit! When I created my Skill Inventory as a student in the course, I saw that there are a lot of hats I wear. I can say with confidence that this exercise gave me the ability to really see the best I offer, and how to articulate it. So, I have to give credit to Scott for this one!

Skill Inventory vs. Skill Assessment

The Skill Inventory is not the same as your Skill Assessment. So, to clear things up:

  • The Skill Assessment is a current measurement of growth. A way to look at where you are going, based on experiences and changes that will help identify career preferences.
  • The Skill Inventory is an exercise in identity. Every role is recalled, grouped and categorized, and how you accomplished professional tasks.

The Process

There are three stages that go into creating your Skill Inventory. Take a look at every role you have had. Group those roles into categories. Articulate how those categories have common traits – the skills, metrics, and what you did to excel in them.

  • All of your roles. List out everything you can think of: student, office clerk, trivia ace, dancer, researcher, database navigator, event coordinator, customer service, library assistant, American Library Association member, presenter. Don’t limit yourself – any combo of words is a role. A mix of personal, hobbies, volunteer work, school, professional gigs – these are the experiences you’ve had, where you gained insight and experience. Then start connecting the category ‘dots.’ If you would like a terrific visual tool, you can create a word cloud to help!
  • What the roles required. This is where you begin to see patterns. When you identified the categories that fit under specific roles in step one (and, yes, there can be overlap), maybe your time as a library assistant involved researching, events, customer service, using a database, etc.
  • Go into detail. With the example of library assistant, focus on events. Let’s pretend that the library had a book club, where you helped facilitate setting up, greeting patrons and recommending books. Can you estimate how many of these meetings there were? How many people attended on average? How long were these book club meetings? Was it for adults, teens, or everyone? Did you help coordinate the book selection?

Seeing Results

Think about how much you put into a single area of your (pretend) library assistant role. And then articulate that in your résumé, for example, like this:

Assistant Event ManagerLibrary

  • Coordinated 34 monthly book club meetings for teen audience;
  • Reserved library meeting space and organized furniture to accommodate guests;
  • Interacted with guests to encourage discussion; initiated process for genre recommendations;
  • Collaborated with library staff to reserve 25 copies of books available for book club guests; oversaw check-out and return of books in timely manner.  

Take note on how concise, but powerful, that sounds! 

It can be small or large, but everything you’ve done and do today helps paint a picture of you for employers as a capable, experienced and possibly stellar employee. Or, put another way, a confident and experienced individual who has more talent than any other applicant!

Quick Jot from Jillian

The Skill Inventory I made opened my eyes. It was hard at first. I was always taught that my résumé should stick to, well, my work experience. As I began – using a huge sheet of paper and a lot of different colored pens – I didn’t limit myself. Scott encouraged us to incorporate everything that we identified with, have done, enjoy, etc.

The details appeared. I saw links that I never would have connected. Asking myself how many times I was doing something, how much responsibility I was trusted with, and, most importantly, what I truly valued and truly excel in. It gave me more than simply a stronger tool in my career kit.

The Skill Inventory gave me confidence.

Career Opportunities

  • Collections Catalog Assistant. Filoli Historic House and Garden. Woodside, CA. Part – time, Temporary. Apply on website

  • Library Assistant (Digital Asset Management). Headspace. Santa Monica, CA. Part – time, Remote. Apply through Headspace website

Mark Your Calendar!

Cafecito con Michelle Morton hosted by REFORMA SJSU iSchool Student & Alumni Group

  • Date: Thursday, March 18, 2021
  • Time: 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Pacific Time)
  • Location: register here to attend this Zoom event

Connect Over Coffee Virtual Networking Event hosted by ALASC

  • Date: Thursday, March 25, 2021
  • Time: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Pacific Time)
  • Location: register here to attend this Zoom event


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