What Is a Skill Set? [Types, Identification, and Development]

A skill set is a collection of skills, abilities, and knowledge you have picked up throughout your life. When you look at it, you will see that there are many different skills—writing, math, and reading. You might even have learned how to play an instrument or ride a bike.

However, these different skills are related because they help us do something. Skill sets are like a bank account: once you have one, you can draw from it anytime. When starting your career, you must consider your skill set to identify your strengths and what you need to improve.

Skill sets are important because they help us perform more efficiently and effectively in our jobs. They help us get more done, make better decisions, and solve problems faster than we could without them. Learn more about your skill set in this article.

What is a Skill Set?

A skill set is the skills and abilities you use to do things. It’s like how we might refer to someone as having a “handyman’s tools” or being “good with their hands.” A skill set can be anything from making a good cup of coffee to fixing a tire on your car or even knowing how to use a computer.

We all have different skill sets, and they are all different. Some people are good at math but not so good at spelling, while others are great at spelling but terrible at math. There’s no one answer for why this is (or why some people are better at one thing than another).

You may think a skill set is something only highly educated people have, but it’s not true—all kinds of people can develop a skill set. You can learn a lot by tackling challenges outside of work, even if you do not have a degree or formal qualifications.

SEE: Discover unique skills that will impress your boss

How Does a Skill Set Work?

Skill sets are a new way to measure people’s skills, knowledge, and abilities. The concept of skill sets draws from the idea that there are many different ways to approach problems and that each person has their own set of skills they can use to get things done.

A skill set consists of three components:

  • Knowledge: A body of information about a subject or area of expertise. It could be books, courses you’ve taken, or projects you’ve completed.
  • Skills: How proficient you are at using this knowledge. Skills include writing proficiency, math proficiency, computer programming proficiency, and so on.
  • Proficiency: How well your skills are applied to real-life situations. If there’s some kind of test involved in the skill set (such as an interview), then it’ll be measured by comparing your responses with other candidates’ responses to determine who scores higher overall.

Experience, education, training, or even simply watching others do something and doing something yourself can help you learn new skills. The point is that skills don’t come from anywhere—they’re developed through practice and repetition.

Types of Skill Set

1. Soft skills

Soft skills are the underlying abilities that allow you to complete your job or make an impact on others. These skills help you interact with others, build relationships, and influence people. They include communication, collaboration, and leadership skills. Soft skills are often not taught in schools, but they’re readily available to anyone who wants to learn.

Soft skills are vital because they help you get along with other people in the workplace, but they’re also important because they can make or break your career. If you don’t have any soft skills, you won’t be able to take on new challenges or develop your career.

SEE: Explore crucial soft skills that every professional should have

2. Hard skills

Hard skills are the specific abilities you use to perform a job, such as accounting or programming languages. These are the technical and practical skills you will have acquired during your formal education or by acquiring on-the-job experience in a specific field like engineering or programming.

While soft skills are essential for all positions, hard skills are more important for some jobs than others. For example, if you’re applying for a position as a train driver, the chances are that your hard skills will be more critical than your soft ones (though they may still play an important role).

SEE: Understand hard skills

3. Technical skills

Technical skills are the knowledge you need to be proficient in your chosen field. They involve solving problems, identifying opportunities, and making decisions. Furthermore, they include knowing how to use technology, including computers, mobile devices, and software, and comprehending how various technological components interact.

SEE: Understand technical skills

4. Transferable skills

Transferable skills are those that can be used in a variety of situations and industries. Employers look for transferable skills when hiring new employees because these skills help you get the job done quickly and efficiently. 

For example, if you have experience working with Excel spreadsheets, knowing how to use them will help you in your new job as a bookkeeper.

SEE: Here’s a definitive guide to transferable skills

5. Job-specific skills

A job-specific skill is a set of specific and related skills that someone must possess to succeed in a particular job. These skills do not necessarily relate to a job but are learned through experience. 

For example, someone who is a baker needs to be able to slice bread and put it in the oven. If a baker watches someone else cook, they will know how to use a saucepan, how many plates are needed for dinner when handling food, and how they can help make dinner.

Tips for Identifying Your Skill Set

1. Think about what you love doing

It’s easy to think of your passion when you make a list of skills. But the real question is: what activities do you love doing? Identifying your passion may be a more accurate predictor of what you can do with your life than picking out specific skills. 

If you’re having trouble identifying your skill set, think about what you love to do. Identify a task or a job that brings out positive feelings in you and that you enjoy doing. Write down anything that sparks an interest, whether reading or writing, cooking or golfing, or painting walls.

In addition, when you know what you love doing, it’s easier to figure out how to make money doing it.

2. Think of your past education and experiences

Many people are unaware of their skill set. However, this can be quite easily determined by thinking of your past experiences and education. Identify your strengths, weaknesses, and interests by thinking of your past education and experiences. 

As you consider your future career path, it is helpful to think back to your experiences in high school and college. This can help you identify the skills that define your knowledge and experience. Think about what you have done in the past or what jobs you have had. These examples will help you identify the skills you need to get through your current job.

3. Ask for feedback 

The best way to find out what you are good at is to ask for feedback. Find out if you have had enough exposure so that people know you and ask their opinion on the skills they see. 

Ask people what skills they feel you need before applying for a new job or internship, or even as part of taking a class. You may be surprised by the feedback you receive from your peers and professors, which can help guide your future career decisions.

 If you are the type of person who is uncomfortable asking for feedback, then start by asking a friend to give it to you. Ask your friends, family, and acquaintances what they think of you in certain situations.

SEE: Learn more about constructive criticism 

Tips for Developing Your Skill Set

1. Set goals for yourself

Setting your personal goals is an integral part of developing your skill set. Knowing what you enjoy and do not enjoy will allow you to determine where you may want to go and how you may wish to obtain your goals.

While there are many possible career paths, you should not leave this decision entirely up to chance. You can choose the path you want to go if you are aware of your strengths and where you fall on the technical expert to business novice spectrum.

SEE: Explore the most satisfying career development goals

2. Take a course

Learning is not a destination, and it’s a journey that never ends. Taking a course can help you build your skills and understand what you are good at. You’ll approach new concepts and exercises from different angles to see how they work, which is an integral part of the learning process.

If you’re looking to learn more about a topic, courses offer the most flexibility in how you can learn. Some options suit every learning style, from interactive, self-paced videos to live and recorded lectures.

3. Find a mentor

Finding a mentor is one of the best things you can do for your career. A mentor is someone who has been where you are going and knows how to get there. Someone in your field is usually willing to share their insights and advice. 

It can be someone at work, but it can also be a friend or family member with your same interests. Mentors can impart invaluable knowledge on various work-related issues, personal development, and life skills.

A good mentor can find the time for you and guide you along your chosen career path.

4. Get experience and don’t stop practicing 

Getting experience is the best way to learn new skills. Try to intern at a company, volunteer, or work with a non-profit organization. Find an exciting opportunity, do as much research as possible, learn as much as possible, and apply what you’ve learned.

The earlier you learn new skills, the better because it’s when you are most likely to want to do them again in the future. The earlier and more often you practice these skills, your learning curves will be faster. And since practice makes perfect, it takes less time to develop good habits than it does to perfect them.

FAQs

What is the best way to keep your skill set relevant?

The key to staying relevant is always to be learning and improving yourself. Skills can always be applied to your career, so ensure you’re always staying up-to-date on the latest technologies and trends to maintain your skill set.

SEE: Understand continuous learning and its benefits

What are the best skill sets for educational careers?

For a career in education, the best skills are those that help you function well in meetings, write effectively, and present ideas clearly to others. A computer literacy, math, and science background will surely help you succeed in this area.

SEE: Understand life skills education

Why is it important to identify and develop your skill set?

Identifying and developing your skill set is important because it can help you become more successful, make more money, and change the world.

Final Thoughts 

A skill set is the combination of skills that an employee can demonstrate. This combination of skills explains why a particular employee would be suitable for a specific position.

An efficient professional knows his skills like the back of his hand. Many people just struggle with the concept of a skill set, thinking it’s all about the significant skills that can be shown in an actual resume. 

Well, it’s not so. A skill set is a lot more than that, and knowing what each skill means will help you understand where exactly you stand in your abilities.

Lastly, would you like to boost your social skills? At times, the key to learning a new skill set is the ability to interact with people and how to present your pain points. If this piques your interest, read more about essential tips on improving social skills.

Thanks for reading.