Crystal ball held in a hand

The Skill Mapping Blueprint: A Step-by-Step Guide to Mapping Your Skills 

Essentially, skill mapping is getting from where you are to where you want to be. It’s where you imagine your work roles to figure out the skills you need to play a starring role (bit players are always forgotten) on the stage of business.

Author and Developer: Murray Johannsen. Feel to connect him on Linkedin or by email.

Are you looking to take your career to the next level? Do you want to future-proof your skills and make yourself more marketable? If so, then skill mapping is the perfect solution for you.

Skill mapping is the process of identifying, assessing, and developing your skills. It can help you to understand your strengths and weaknesses, identify areas where you need to improve, and set goals for your career development.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of skill mapping, how to map your skills, and the resources available to help you get started. We will also provide a call to action that encourages you to apply for learning expertise or skills through training or coaching.

What is Skill Mapping?

Dream big dreams; only big dreams have the power to move men’s souls.” — Marcus Aurelius.

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” — Arthur Ashe.

Today, more than any other time, your future depends on your expertise and skills.You cannot follow someone else’s journey; you must create your map into the future.

Nor can you assume that what worked in the past will continue to work.This became painfully obvious with the pandemic. It will bite even deeper when machine learning starts biting into the employment roles.

“If you think education is expensive — try ignorance.” —Derrick Book, President of Harvard

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Three Options For Organizations

According to the 2019 Global Talent Trends report, 65% of employees across all regions and industries want a clearly defined skills map for the different job roles in the organization. This is so they can determine the steps needed to advance on the career ladder.

An Instructor Lead Full Class for Organizations. If you would like to sponsor an online class for you organization, do connect with us.

An Instructor Lead Full Class For The Pubic. Two Classes per quarter. Sign-Up For our stand-by list. We will let you know when the next class is coming up.

Sign Up For a Free Crash Course. Get the essence of skill mapping

Four Learning Options For Individuals

Learning Central

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Special Offer: Two For the Price of one

With Social Skill Mapping you can learn it first and then share what you know with another — all for the same price.

The Six Steps In The Skill Mapping Master Pan

Get the Big Picture in an three-minute video

The First Step of Skill Mapping: Visualizing Current and Future Roles

Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting, and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.” — Horace Greeley, 1865

Painting By John Gast (circa 1872): Manifest Destiny. Manifest Destiny was a political ideology held by Americans during the 19th Century. This belief held that the nation should expand from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Notice the use of light shining on technologies such as the railroad and the telegraph: the cultivation of the land, wagon trains, and so on. Notice the retreat of Indians and native species into the darkness; the East lies in the light of the known, but in the West, there is the darkness of the unknown.

“Those who don’t spend time thing about their future aren’t likely to have a good one.” Saying. M. Johannsen

The first step is not easy for some. It calls on you to project yourself into the future using your imagination. Yet, I sometimes think the education system causes the imagination to atrophy. It’s one reason the current educational system does not work for many (Robinson, 2010). If you somehow manage to get from K1 to 12 with your imagination intact, surely college will destroy it.

Where did your imagination go? Perhaps it was crushed by your schools and universities?

The case can be made that formal education also kills the imagination. Think back. Did a teacher ask you to close your eyes and use your imagination in any of your classes at any time in your life

Painting by: Anton Von Werner: State Opening of Parliament (German Reichstag) on 25 June 1888, celebrated in the White Hall of the Berlin Palace In life and work, all of us play many roles. In this painting, we see a many individuals, playing many roles.
In this painting, we see many individuals playing many roles.

You can be a bit player on the stage of work or a superstar. But to be a star, you will want to learn skill mapping. Sometimes this is also called competency modeling. A core part of this process is to define the critical skill-sets required to play a particular role. But before that, one has to define your social role. Three are future-oriented, and one is related to your current work. This includes your:

  1. Current Role
  2. Next Role
  3. Dream Role
  4. After-Life Role

Take Action: Map Our Your Future Roles



Don’t be a bit player. Get future ready and map our the roles you need to play on the stage of business. 

A SHORT COURSE is a self-contained, low cost, self-paced, online class available to you 24/7. It contains all the content you need, the work sheets to fill out, exercise to compete. Plus you also get email support. 

Skill Mapping Step 2: Scan the Environment — Continuously

“You can choose to exist in a dark closet of ignorance or step into the light of knowledge.” — Murray Johannsen

Painting by: Ivan Aivazovsky (1817–1900): The Ninth Wave
Scanning the environment is a process, one that you do seek even daily. The more you pay attention to what’s happening in the background, the better you can prepare. But you have to know where to look. Painting by: Ivan Aivazovsky (1817–1900): The Ninth Wave

As told in the book “The Big Short,” by 2007, it was clear to some that a recession was looming. These investors saw what few government policymakers, bankers, people in business, or consumers perceived and shorted the market, making hundreds of millions of dollars. Thus, the importance of having a skill called foresight.

But it was terrible for the millions in America who were paying less attention to the big picture since banks reposed their homes. So if you see dark clouds, the wind is picking up, and raindrops in the air, you best bring an umbrella.

Dealing with threats is one primary reason you want to engage in environmental scanning. The other reason? It helps you detect opportunities.

Claude Monet (1840–1926): La Gare Saint-Lazare de Claude Monet

Step 3: Identify Opportunities and Threats

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” — Winston Churchill.

Nikolai Dmitriev-Orenburgsky (1837–1898): Fire in the Village. While some changes are obvious, many still find themselves unprepared to deal with it when it occurs.
Nikolai Dmitriev-Orenburgsky (1837–1898): Fire in the Village. While some changes are apparent, many still find themselves unprepared to deal with them when it occurs.

Let’s face it. Threats stress people out; they cause anxiety, worry, and fear. It’s so much easier to deny them than deal with them. But acting like an ostrich with your head in the sand does not minimize your exposure.

People in earthquake zones fail to prepare for the next Big One, those that live on the beach don’t hurricane-proof their homes, some drivers try to run without car insurance, and those living next to rivers can’t imagine the water breaking through a levy.

It’s so much easier to deny the problem than to deal with it. We all do it. We shouldn’t. Threats need to be minimized. They need to be dealt with. They must be faced. Show courage — be fearless.

“The wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” — Sir Francis Bacon.

For the artist, the painting is both a creative expression and the opportunity to make money when displayed in an art gallery.

Fast burners know whether something is an opportunity or not. They know when an unexpected opportunity presents itself and take advantage of it. They can even create their opportunities. One doesn’t do this by sitting in an easy chair with a scotch in your hand and letting your imagination run wild. Instead, its focused effort is applied for days, months, or years toward a vision or goal. It’s something great men and women know how to do. And it’s something the rest of us should learn.

Skill Mapping Step 4: Assess Your Five Core Organizational Skill-Sets

“The door of opportunity frequently opens for those best prepared to walk through it.” — Murray Johannsen

Image by: AnonMoos Image by: AnonMoos: Borromean Cross. It symbolizes that fact that the Core Five skill categories are linked together and not independent of each other.

In the Core Five Organizational model, every work role has five unique competencies. They are:


Everything job requires the use of some technology.


The focus here is on the “soft skills” and getting things done through people.


We all manage some work. And of course, all must manage time and money, resources typically in scarce supply.

Strategy and Tactics

Essentially, you must know where you are, where you’re going, and how to get there. And one must go tactical and execute a strategy in time.


The one area many people ignore it’s the mental process underlying both success and failure.

For example, a college student must learn to manage time, develop self-discipline, get good at some aspects of information technology, etc. Yet, before graduation, the brilliant ones executed a job search strategy and set the communication skills necessary to get through an interview.

Of course, once college students graduate, they must start the skill development process all over again. For example, at the university, they learn a skill called writing a research paper. However, in corporate America, the rain will fall in the Sahara about as often as you will write in scholar English a research paper with citations in the APA style in 12 pt Times.

Sadly, many students lack the skill sets employers want and graduate into a time of being unemployed or underemployed.

Skill-Set 5: Define Strengths and Weaknesses

“It’s not your strengths people talk about over a beer.” — Murray Johannsen.

Anton Raphael Mengs (1728–1779): Mengs,_Helios_als_Personifikation_des_Mittages. Most of us, have no idea what our strengths are, let alone our weaknesses. This image symbolizes the special skill of archery (and I suppose)  of  flying.
Anton Raphael Mengs (1728–1779): Mengs,_Helios_als_Personifikation_des_Mittages. Most of us have no idea what our strengths are, let alone our weaknesses. This image symbolizes the extraordinary skill of archery (and, I suppose)  of flying.

Why You Can Focus on Strengths

If you plan on having the same role the rest of your life, stay with your existing strengths and don’t worry about your weaknesses. For example, artists can focus exclusively on their art, strengthening a god-given talent.

Why You Should Focus on Weaknesses

There are two career paths where you cannot afford to have weaknesses — c-level executive and entrepreneur. But the skills needed for each are quite different. To a lesser degree, this also applies to supervisors and managers. In those areas, faults cause plateauing or failure.

Playing to your strengths makes sense in specific career fields. For example, if you make your living as a drummer in a band, a football linebacker, a surgeon, or a CPA, getting good at a small number of skills makes excellent sense. But if your career path requires more than just a narrow skill-set, it’s what you don’t know that harms you.

However, if you see yourself as unfinished work, as someone who doesn’t want the same job for 30 years, as a person who wants to move up the ladder of success, you better work on those weaknesses.

If in doubt about proficiency, put a skill into the weakness category. Also, some skills are so vital that you never take them off your weakness list. An example is certain verbal communication skills.

Remember, if you are starting something new and you don’t think you have any weaknesses, your head is not screwed on straight.

Unfortunately, few formally assess their strengths and weaknesses. And for those who do, it’s common to put down many strengths and just a few weaknesses. It’s a typical pattern for a narcissist. They like to think they are perfect—a fatal flaw if there ever was one.

“You get hired because of your strengths, fired because of your weaknesses.” — Murray Johannsen.

CM-Scale of Justice
Artist: Antonio Canova. Image by Fondazione Caripio. Notice the scale, a symbol of justice. But it also signifies measuring the pros and cons of strengths and weaknesses.

Assess Your Character and Traits

This is where assessments, a mentor, or a coach come in handy—getting feedback from an expert is vital. They can provide specific details only someone who mastered a skill is capable of knowing.

See: Sins and Virtues: Spotting Flaws and Developing Strength

Step 6: Take Action

“Always, always plan your route.” ― Rick Riordan

The map has given you the layout, and you now know your destination, but there are many paths to get there. Sometimes the way is unclear; occasionally, multiple paths can take you there.

Imagination does not end in skill mapping. It is also vital in routing. But, you must know what actions to take at the right time.

U.S. National Park Service: Klondike Route Map. Notice that three routes can approach a destination (Dawson City). Each course will have certain advantages and disadvantages. And so it is when we push to achieve a goal. Typically, many paths can get you there.

Skill Mapping is the first phase. Now you have a destination. But it’s now time to plan your route. In this phase, you will develop a set of priorities and establish a development plan. This is a whole new skill set many lack.

You must continuously build application skills from a practical standpoint of making a living. Application skills can be physical or mental; the point is they can be used in the real world. For example, many know geometry and algebra, but few, very few, use them in their jobs.

One needs to take action to get from where you are to where you want to be. This is commonly described as execution or getting tactical.

But there is another aspect of this, one many neglect. You must also have essential abilities such as leadership skills and know the mastery of learning skills.

On Site Resources


Robinson, Ken (2010). Bring On The Learning Revolution.

Santiago, Elizabeth and Trujillo, Daniel (N.D.). Aligning Curriculum in 9-14 Pathways. Jobs for the Future.

First published on November 6, 2016. Last Update: July 23, 2023

Work Skills For the 21st Century