Career management in this changing world is a bit like a chess game. You need to look several moves ahead. All of us will be judged by our ability to impact an organization, so here are some questions that to ask yourself to determine both those things that you do well and the ways in which you contribute:

  • What particularly strong skills do you have? Of these skills, which show an exceptional ability?
  • How are you regarded? If others were to describe you, which adjectives would come up most frequently?
  • What are your greatest contributions to the organizations or groups to which you belong?

You may have more skills than you realize. For example, your ability to express yourself rhetorically may qualify you to be a copy writer or technical editor. If you are persuasive, you could be a sales rep, a fundraiser or hold public office. You can see many applications of your unique and varied skills if you look at them imaginatively. Here are some other examples of applicable skills:

  • Math — Skills in arithmetic have to do with more than adding or subtracting numbers. These skills may also be used to analyze problems systematically and logically. Marketers should be able to project sales and analyze profitability of the products they bring to market.
  • Physicality — This is the ability to use one’s body, in movement or other action, to provide solutions. Activities like sports, dancing or acting come to mind. Physical skills are also important in such areas as building and crafts. One of my high school classmates is a successful surgeon, and he maintains the manual skills needed in the operating room by woodworking.
  • Spatial Recognition —People with strong spatial recognition are often good at visualizing the placement of objects, just as a good interior designer knows exactly where to place a chair or table in a room. Those with spatial recognition may also have that mystical “sense of direction,” a skill needed by a guide, a hunter, or a cartographer. Other ideal careers for those with this skill include artists, engineers, and architects.
  • Social Skills — Did you ever meet people whom everyone seems to like? These men and women seem to have the uncanny ability to see into the souls of others and feel empathy for them. (Think Michael Jordan.) They are usually extroverts, and they are known for their ability to work well in a group. They tend to enjoy a healthy discussion, though they are careful not to cross over the line into argument. If you have highly developed social skills, you may be well suited to a career as a politician, manager of people, teacher or instructor, and, especially, diplomats.

It is easy to take a skills inventory. Take a tablet of paper and brainstorm a list of all the things you do well. Ask yourself as many rhetorical questions as you can imagine, such as:

  • How are my language skills? How clearly do I express myself? Typically, how well do I get my point across to others?
  • How well can I instruct others on a task that I know well but which is new to them?
  • How are my physical skills? How well can I lift or carry objects?
  • How is my eye-to-hand coordination? How well could I handle tools if necessary?
  • How adept am I with numbers? How well could I estimate the costs of a project? What is my ability to create a project or departmental budget and manage it?
  • How would I describe my visual skills? How well do I arrange objects? Are they visually pleasing when I am finished? Do I have a sense of size and distance, enabling me to estimate physical materials that are needed?
  • How well do I set goals? Once I set them, how effective am I in fulfilling them?
  • How are my social skills? Can I empathize with the wants and needs of my colleagues?
  • How well do I motivate or inspire others to action? How adept am I in determining the wants and needs of others and then addressing them?

You could probably devise more questions. The point of this exercise is to stimulate self-knowledge and arrive at an honest assessment of your skills. Knowing just what you offer will begin to help you understand where you can best contribute to others.