Tech & Work

The tool you need to build your skills inventory

If you're serious about your IT career, here's a tool to show you where the cracks are in your career path and what skills you need to fill those gaps. Kevin Eikenberry explains.

As the new training manager, it’s your job to manage your organization’s most important resource: its employees. Your job is a tough one. Your organization is struggling to find and keep the type of talent it needs to reach its objectives. You decide that you need to get an inventory of your employees’ skills to help them identify their skill gaps and to help in the recruitment of new employees who have the skills your organization is lacking.

You’re excited about this task—but a little daunted, too, until your browser finds This site looks promising; it may be just the ticket you need to solve your skills problem.

Site goal
The goal of the site is to help individuals and organizations do skill inventories, find gaps, and suggest ways to close the gaps. There is a clear individual component here, but organizations will also benefit from this site. According to, its purpose is to allow “individuals to select their job position from an extensive list of ’industry standard’ titles, to rate themselves in the skills most important to their positions, and to view on-line reports describing their skill gaps and the learning events that will help close those gaps.”

To be allowed full access to information provided by, you’re required to become a member. But, to pique your interest—and it will be piqued—the site offers visitors a good interactive example to help you see the process and benefits of this skill inventory service.

The components
The major components of this skills inventory service are:
  • Skill Profiles completed online by the individual
  • Summary Reports designed to help the individual and/or organization understand their overall skill levels
  • Skills Databases as a member you can utilize some comprehensive databases which list skills, jobs, etc.

Completing the demo
After answering a couple of demographic questions (only your e-mail address is required), the site then takes you to the demonstration. This demo allows you to see all of the positions available in the database, but the demo will choose the Business Systems Analyst position for you. (When you’re a member, of course, you can choose anything you want.) Then the demo runs everyone through the same job position inventory. That section is also abbreviated, but that doesn’t matter because it gives you a great taste for the tool. You’re asked to rate each skill on a 0-4 scale, with the descriptors for each rating clearly displayed. If you want a further definition or explanation of any skill, you can click an icon, and a pop-up window gives you that information. This feature is well done and valuable to the user.

After completing the inventory, an assessment comes up immediately. With a helpful bar graph view, you see how your competency level matches up on each skill to the requirements for the job. Beside each skill there is also an icon that brings up a window giving you specific recommendations for ways to improve your competency in that area. This list of recommendations is exhaustive and perhaps as valuable as anything in the service. This is especially helpful if you’re a training manager who needs to help employees boost weak skill areas. Recommendations are made in a variety of categories, including:
  • On- and off-the-job activities
  • Articles
  • Conferences
  • Organizations and associations
  • Publications
  • Reference materials
  • Web resources

The last section of the demo shows a sample of the management reports available with the service. All reports are generated in Adobe Acrobat, and all of them worked well. While the data was “made-up” for the demo, the value of these reports to an organization serious about improving performance and retention through skill management is clear. Some of the reports available include:
  • Top 50 Skill Gaps
  • Top 25 Skills Gaps by Position
  • Organizational Competency Report
  • Organizational Training Reports, including by skill and by employee detail reporting

Overall Impressions
If you’re a training manager facing a skills inventory, should be your next Web site visit. The site is comprehensive and quick, and, from a design perspective, it’s clean and attractive. The company has done another thing well by keeping this site focused on its service, as opposed to including information about its other products and services.

Kevin Eikenberry is President of the Discian Group , a learning consulting company in Indianapolis, IN.

If you would like to comment on this article or have any questions or suggestions of other Web sites to review then please post your comments below or write to Kevin .

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