Create Value for Clients with a Skills Inventory

Skills toolkit, skills inventory

I’m delighted to have received my Certified Career Development Practitioner (CCDP) designation last month! Putting together my application was time consuming, but it was also worth it. As I documented my skills inventory, I reflected. Looking back at the many clients I have helped and the experiences I’ve lived through was extremely rewarding! It reminded me of an important job we have as career development professionals. When we guide our clients in developing and maintaining their own skills inventory, we create immense value for them. It’s one way to help them get to know themselves.

First, Identify the Skills

It’s believed that the average person has between 500-700 skills! Many of our clients can only name a handful of theirs. So, a good place to start is to help them understand different skill categories — like hard skills gained through education and hands-on experience, soft (human) skills, and transferable skills.

An internet search provides a variety of worksheets for identifying and assessing skills. Clients can determine general employability skills or specialized skills for a particular career field. Skills fall under headings such as physical, communication, artistic, administrative, hands-on, and leadership, to name a few. Clients may want to complete the skills inventory on their own or have their practitioner help them.

Help Young Clients Create a Skills Inventory

Young clients with little or no paid work experience often think they don’t have any employment-related skills at all. We can facilitate the skills inventory process by probing for abilities these clients have developed through volunteer work, school placements, community involvement, and sports activities. A young client may be surprised to learn that those Saturdays they volunteered with the kids’ hockey club at the community centre can translate to adding coaching, planning, organization, and communication skills to their résumé and cover letter!

Experienced Clients Need a Skills Inventory Too

A skills inventory can provide great value to clients who are further along in their careers. Start by identifying the skills they use every day, but take for granted. By assessing their proficiency level in each skill, they can determine which ones they need to refresh or upgrade. The skills inventory is a tool that helps clients revisit their career goals and determine if they are on track. They can easily identify new skills to learn so they remain relevant in their field or get promoted.

Helping Clients in Career Transition

For clients looking to pivot or switch careers, a skills inventory is a great exercise to get a big picture of their abilities. When followed up with labour market research about skills needed in their new field of interest, clients will be better able to identify which of their skills are transferable from one work environment to another. Practitioners can also use the skills inventory to talk with clients about positions they have the ability to do but haven’t previously considered. Such a discussion can boost clients’ confidence as they prepare to market their skills and abilities on their résumé and in an interview.

Explore Beyond the Skills Inventory

Of course, identifying a client’s skills and abilities is just one piece of the career development puzzle. It’s important for the client to examine which of these skills they actually enjoy using regularly. It’s great if the client knows how to fix a flat tire but if they don’t enjoy doing it, they probably shouldn’t pursue a career in automotive repair. Exploring and assessing other factors with your client such as their values, personality type, and preferred work environment will also prove beneficial as they set career goals.

A Tool for the Future

Observing how the world of work is constantly changing has caused many people to understand that career development really is a lifelong process. Let’s all be vigilant about adapting and evolving our skills and knowledge to be successful in the future. The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Future of Jobs Report notes that “by 2025, 44% of the skills that employees will need to perform their roles effectively will change.” By using the skills inventory as a tool for learning and self-reflection, we create value for clients by helping them gain self-knowledge, clarity, and control over their employment journey.

Do you have success stories about how your clients benefited from creating and leveraging a skills inventory? If so, please share them in the comments below.

Jacqueline Smith-Jordan is a Certified Career Development Practitioner (CCDP) and Certified Work-Life Strategist (CWS). She has over 10 years’ experience in life skills and employment coaching, and a keen interest in helping individuals identify and attain meaningful work. Jacqueline is currently a Project Leader at Agilec, using her passion for training and facilitation to equip clients with the skills needed to successfully achieve their employment goals.

Image by iqoncept on 123RF


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Thank you Jacqueline for this great article full of practical tools CDP and guidance counselors can use when working with clients who feel the need to discover or rediscover their skills and strengths. Thank you for sharing!

Thank you for the comment Catherine; I’m glad you found the article useful! Just yesterday I had a participant in one of my virtual workshops say how much more confident he was feeling from being able to identify some of his transferable skills during the session. He is transitioning to a new career (after 30 years in the same job) and it definitely gives him a place to start his journey. We give our clients a great gift when we help them reflect in this way.

Thanks for this article, Jacqueline, I found it very helpful and I appreciate the linked resources. I work with young people who almost always say they have zero skills. Of course that’s usually because of a lack of personal awareness or lack of understanding what a skill is. Developing a skills inventory is usually quite an eye-opener.

Thanks Michael. Working with young people to help them identify their skills and guide them with their career decisions can be very rewarding! Glad the linked resources are helpful.