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Self-Assessment

Self-assessment is an important step in any skills or competency assessment.

Introduction

A self assessment of your own SFIA skills and skill levels is a valuable activity to support your professional development.

A self assessment can be completed by individuals, independently, as a review and reflection of their work experience, skills and responsibility.

A self-assessment is also, commonly, a necessary input to managed processes such as:

  • job applications and interviews,
  • one-to-one conversations with a line manager or a practice manager / career mentor - discussing performance and professional development needs
  • an application for registration or certification with a professional body
  • a formal SFIA skills assessment by an independent assessor

In these cases; your ability to provide an objective, accurate assessment of your own level of skills and experience adds professional credibility to you as an individual.

For a variety of reasons, individuals may over- or under-estimate their skills and skill levels. By its nature; it can be difficult to be objective and impartial in a self assessment.

  • SFIA helps by providing a structured framework, with clear incremental skill level descriptions to aid objectivity.
  • Accuracy and robustness are also improved by using a self-assessment process which relates SFIA skills to documented evidence of workplace experience

Following these guidelines means that  a SFIA-based self-assessment provides a good starting point for professional discussions related to work experience, achievements, skills and professional development.

Download a pdf of the guidelines here - SFIA self-assessment version 1.0

The Steps to Self-assessment

Clear Purpose

  • Be clear on why you are doing a skills assessment

Preparation

  • Get SFIA reference material / choose an  assessment tool
  • Familiarise yourself with the key concepts of SFIA
  • Collate personal work documents and evidence as required

Assess SFIA level of responsibility

  • Consider SFIA generic levels 1 to 7
  • Assess against autonomy, influence, complexity, knowledge and business skills
  • Record results

Select / prioritise SFIA skills to assess

  • Target skills to assess e.g. for current or future role, a job vacancy or against industry standard definitions

OR

  • Navigate the full set of SFIA skills to find the skills relevant to your work experience

Assess SFIA skills

For each SFIA skill you select:

  • Read SFIA skill description
    (confirm it matches your experience)
  • Read SFIA skill at a level description
  • Select and record appropriate level(s)

  • If you choose a level that exceeds your level of responsibility assessment; confirm by reviewing the  Assess SFIA level of responsibility step.

Record work experience to support assessment

  • Recording supporting evidence is helpful, and in some cases essential to make use of the assessment.
  • Capture the work experience which matches the responsibility levels, skills and skill levels you have selected
  • Consider updating your personal work/career records to include your skills assessment

Next steps

  • Review the purpose of the assessment. Has that been achieved?

  • In what other ways can you use this assessment?

  • When would it be useful to repeat / update the assessment?

Key Points

  • A self-assessment can be performed very quickly, but significant value can be obtained with more thought and a little preparation
  • Understand why you are performing self-assessment
  • Familiarise yourself with the key concepts of SFIA
  • Consider both the Generic Attributes and Professional Skills
  • SFIA is about experience of performing the skill not just having knowledge of the subject matter
  • Follow a structured assessment process, based on work experience to avoid over- or under-estimating your skill levels
  • Pick only the skills relevant to your use of self-assessment
  • The self-assessment does not have to address all skills, only those necessary, and it may be added incrementally in the future
  • It is good practice to collate and record evidence to justify the skills and skill levels claimed

Detailed Guidance

Target audience

  • Individuals exploring SFIA by means of a self-assessment of their skills
  • Individuals performing a self-assessment as part of a managed process led by an employer, professional body, or other organisation
  • Line Managers, HR & L&D consultants, resourcing specialists, recruiters, SFIA consultants & practitioners who are supporting employers, professional bodies and other organisations to adopt SFIA and want to understand generally recognised practice in the use of self-assessments

Notes

  • SFIA is a flexible resource and can be applied in many ways. 
  • These guidelines are illustrative, and present alternative approaches. They do not mandate a single definitive approach.
  • The approach you choose will depend on the purpose of your self-assessment, your work  or academic environment and the planned use of the assessment outcomes.
  • There is an active global ecosystem of SFIA Partners, SFIA Consultants and Practitioners. They  are available for advice on SFIA assessments and the use of specific processes and tools (including skills assessment software) to support SFIA assessments. Full details are available on the SFIA website

Clear Purpose

SFIA is a flexible resource and can be applied to many activities and opportunities. Before you start a self-assessment, it can be helpful to think why you are doing it.

 

Making a note of what you are trying to achieve will help focus and guide your self-assessment efforts.

Examples

As an individual I would like to:

  • Find a good way of describing the breadth and depth of my experience
  • Establish a baseline for planning my next career steps and my professional development
  • Assess myself against the needs of a particular job/role or qualification
  • Develop high quality, focused, learning and development objectives based on actual needs

As an employer I would like to:

  • Help my employees discover and communicate the full breadth and depth of their skills to support processes such as professional development and resource deployment.

Preparation

Although the process of assessment can be performed quickly it can be helpful to collect some material in advance. Alternatively, you can complete a self-assessment and then review and improve once you have collected supporting material.

 

 

Get the SFIA Reference material

Supporting SFIA material is available on this website. You will need to register for a Personal Licence in order to download the material.
The personal licence is free of charge - register here.

If you are using a tool or  HR system to support assessment; some or all of the SFIA content may be embedded in the tool.

 

Base your assessment on your actual work experience.


Cross-reference your own personal work records to for a comprehensive and accurate assessment.

 

To help this it can be helpful to gather  relevant personal information before starting the assessment. This is  (optional, as may not be required for some assessment approaches)

Examples

  • Your CV / resume
  • Recent job descriptions, assignment objectives, or terms of reference for your work
  • An organisation chart
  • A list of your key stakeholders or contacts at work
  • Key deliverables you have produced, the outcomes you achieve in your work
  • Records of training and education you have received
  • Feedback from managers, colleagues, customers or others
  • Your reflective learning journal

 

Find time, head-space, and a comfortable environment without distractions.

 

Things to consider

  • Some people prefer working directly with a computer or device, others prefer the use of paper, pencil to jot down notes and ideas
  • Returning to assessments after a short period of time, e.g. the following day or week, will bring a different perspective and allow you to reflect and improve your initial assessment
  • Ideally, a self-assessment is not a one-off exercise and can become a useful and on-going professional development tool. You can revisit after a period of time and/or completion of a significant piece of work or development action.
  • The purpose of a self-assessment is not to aim for the highest skill level, treat it as an investigation in order to match yourself to the levels described.
  • Be realistic; it can be difficult to be impartial when assessing yourself, but there is no benefit in over- or under-assessing e.g. you may miss out on development opportunities or apply for jobs/assignments for which you are not suitable.
  • Many self-assessments are the first step in a managed process (e.g. a job interview, a conversation with your manager, an interview with a professional body or independent skills assessor). In these cases; your ability to provide an objective, accurate assessment of your own level experience adds professional credibility to you as an individual.


Find my SFIA level of responsibility

The backbone of SFIA is a common language to describe levels of responsibility across roles in all the professional disciplines represented in SFIA.

The value of the generic SFIA Levels of Responsibility is often overlooked by new users of SFIA. Experienced users recognise that the levels of responsibility provide the solid foundation for SFIA skill level assessments.

 

Review and understand SFIA's generic levels of responsibility.

This is an important first step which will provide the foundation for the next steps in the assessment and beyond.

Read through the generic descriptions.  Notice the incremental difference in each responsibility as you move from level 1 to 2 to 3 etc.

Do this for each of the 5 generic responsibilities in turn.

You will start to get a feel for which level matches best to your current level of responsibility. 

Notes
  • The SFIA Framework consists of seven levels of responsibility from Level 1, the lowest, to Level 7, the highest. The levels describe the behaviours, values, knowledge and experience that an individual should have in order to be identified as competent at the level.
  • There are 7 levels of responsibility in SFIA; each are described by 5 generic responsibilities.
  • The levels are precisely written to be progressive, distinct and consistently described.
  • The generic responsibilities describe five important attributes of responsibility called autonomy, influence, complexity, knowledge and business skills.
  • These are applicable to all jobs and roles no matter what the specialism, the size or nature of an employer, the geographical location etc.
  • This content can be found on the SFIA Foundation spreadsheet, the A3 chart, the complete reference guide and the SFIA website.

 

Consider how the expectations of your current or latest job or role match to SFIA’s generic levels of responsibility.

 

Notes
  • Remember, at this stage the focus is on responsibilities based on your current work experience; not what you have potential or aspirations towards.
  • While SFIA does not align years of work experience to SFIA levels; it is natural that to build up experience to match the higher SFIA levels will take time and opportunity.
  • Your accountabilities / responsibilities may be documented formally in a role profile, job description, position description, or a “terms of reference” for a piece of work or assignment. In many cases, it may be less formal. You could discuss with your line manager or co-workers to get their views
  • If you have experience of operating at a higher level in previous role assignments, then you may want to consider that experience too (see guidance on Recency below).
  • You may think that you are contributing more or less than the formal expectations of the role – again you can use the SFIA Levels of Responsibility to highlight the behaviours/attributes /competencies you have demonstrated.

 

You will now have a good understanding of your normal level of responsibility.

This indicates the SFIA level at which you operate in your current or recent work,

Make a note of the level(s) as it provides a very good sense check for your maximum skills levels in the following steps of the self-assessment.

Alternatives
  • Assessment against the Level of Responsibility can be done in a variety of ways. Select the approach which is optimal based on your reason for doing the assessment.
  • One overall assessment – considering all the 5 generic attributes but not scoring each individually
  • Assessment against each generic attribute to inform an overall level of responsibility. Use this to highlight strengths and development areas against each attribute.
  • Assessment using a graduated rating scale instead of a binary yes or no. This can provide a richer picture to inform the overall assessment.
  • Assessment against each of the indicators within the generic attributes separately, to create a detailed diagnostic of your strengths and development areas.


Select / prioritise the skills to assess

One of SFIA's strengths is its comprehensive, industry-wide, coverage - as a result there are many different professional and technical skills described in SFIA.  

  • SFIA is a flexible resource, and, to assist navigating the framework, the skills can be grouped, filtered, and viewed in alternative ways to support specific disciplines, organisations and frameworks and the different needs of users.
  • The SFIA website provides some helpful views of SFIA skills and the SFIA Complete Reference Guide uses categories and sub-categories to group skills.
  • Before performing your self-assessment, you should consider the different ways to identify and prioritise the skills you wish to assess against.

 

Option 1 - use the SFIA Categories and Sub-categories

The SFIA framework groups skills into categories and sub-categories. Colour coding is also used to identify the categories. This is shown on the website, the Complete Reference Guide and the A3 sized summary chart.

Notes


The SFIA categories are

  • Strategy and architecture
  • Change and transformation
  • Development and implementation
  • Delivery and operation
  • Skills and quality
  • Relationships and engagement
These categories and sub-categories do not equate to jobs, roles, organisational teams or areas of personal responsibility. 
  • It is common practice that skills for a specific job description are made up of skills taken from multiple categories and sub-categories.
  • The categories and sub-categories are intended to assist with navigation, e.g. when incorporating SFIA skills into role profiles, job descriptions, or, when building an organisation’s own competency framework.
  • The categories and sub-categories do not have definitions themselves; they are simply a structure to aid navigation

 

 

Option 2 - use the  SFIA Views

The SFIA user community has developed a number of views based on domains of interest. They provide a sub-set of the SFIA skills. You can use these views to focus on the skills that may be most relevant to your areas of experience.

SFIA Views are available for

  • Software engineering
  • Digital transformation
  • Service management
  • Big data, analytics and data management
  • Agile
  • DevOps

The views are intended as guidelines only. If you cannot find a particular skill you may wish to follow up with the alphabetical list. This is available on the A3 sheet, in the SFIA complete reference guide and website.

Contact the SFIA Foundation if you can’t find a view that you are looking for.

 

Option 3 - use the Alphabetical list 

If you know the name of particular SFIA skills, you can find them in the A-Z index, or you can simply read through the skills in order.

  • Assessments against all of SFIA skills are the most comprehensive
  • It can also be a non-directive way of identifying the relevant skills – i.e. without an overlay of SFIA categories or views.
  • If you have broad work experience and / or broad professional development interests, you can browse the full list to find the skills of interest.
  • Assessing against the entire SFIA framework can be valuable in ensuring that nothing is inadvertently missed. Of course, this may require a greater investment of time.
  • Some employers maintain employee skills databases to support workforce planning or resourcing needs. In these cases, a comprehensive assessment of all your skills can be useful.

 

 

Option 4 - use the standard Job Roles 

Some assessments may be performed against the requirements of a specific job or role. For example, for a job interview.

 

Coming soon.

Examples

  • The SFIA framework does not prescribe jobs or roles. However, SFIA provides the foundation for a number of industry approaches to defining roles.
  • Employer provided job roles / SFIA skills profiles
  • Vacancies posted with SFIA skill and skill level expectations
  • Some professional bodies have industry-based accreditation schemes based on SFIA skills and skill levels
  • The SFIA framework does not describe jobs or roles. However, SFIA provides support for a number of industry approaches to defining roles.
    • European ICT
    • GDS / DDAT roles
    • Job Families
    • Other standard skills profiles may be available from other sources e.g. from the Australian Public Sector, Chilean Government
    • Use care when using industry profiles - they are usually generic and may not always be suitable for your specific needs.
    • Note that some organisations may name the skills differently to SFIA. If you cannot find a particular skill in SFIA, it may be worth reading through the alphabetical list for variations to the name you are familiar with.


Assess my SFIA Skills

Once you have selected the SFIA skills to assess against. There are a number of different options for assessing SFIA skills and recording a SFIA skill assessment.

  • If you are doing this as part of a managed process or tool; then the approach is likely to be prescribed for you.
  • If you are doing this as a stand-alone exercise, then select an approach which will support the purpose of your assessment.

 

Read the SFIA skill names and overall skill descriptions of the skills you want to self-assess and confirm that the skill described is relevant to your experience.

 

Notes

  • The overall SFIA skill description is important as it provides the context for the individual skill level descriptions
  • There are some SFIA skill names which appear to have a similar scope. By reading the overall skill description you can be sure to choose the right one. E.g. Consulting (CNSL) and Specialist Advice (TECH), Emerging technology monitoring (EMRG), Innovation (INOV) and Research (RSCH). 

 

 

Decide which Skill-at-a-level descriptions are relevant for this self-assessment.

Depending on the purpose of the assessment; there are different approaches to selecting which skill levels to assess against:

  1. Assess against all skill levels, working upwards from the lowest level
  2. Assess the skill levels which are closest to your selected generic level of responsibility - see above
  3. Target your assessment at the skill level targets you are assessing against. E.g. for a job vacancy, a skills profile for your current or future role, a professional certification

 

Read the skill-at-a-level descriptions and compare your work experience to the activities and responsibilities described.

Notes
  • The SFIA skill-at-a-level descriptions are written in plain, jargon-free language to enable you to match your own work-experiences to the levels described.
  • SFIA skill-at-a-level descriptions describe real life, work-based experiences and actions. If you have not done what the level description says, then you don’t have the skill at that level.
  • If a skill-at-a-level is relevant to you, it should be repeatable – that is, you have done the activities described successfully, done them more than once and could do them again.
  • SFIA level descriptions are not descriptions of knowledge. They describe the application and mastery of skills in the workplace, not just knowledge of the topic or subject matter area. The descriptions focus on how knowledge is applied to produce results in the workplace. You can be very knowledgeable but not have had the opportunity to apply the knowledge in a work environment. If that is the case, you could not be said to have the skill.
  • The descriptions are diagnostic, not prescriptive. The SFIA skill is not intended as a complete definition of all the activities that could be carried out by someone with that skill. It is intended for diagnostic use: to help determine if a given individual has the skill; and if so, at what level.
  • So professional judgment is required when assessing; not just a tick-list, check-box approach.

 

Record your skill level.


Similar to the generic levels of responsibility, there are options for recording the results of your assessment. 

  1. A single level number per SFIA skill to represent the highest level for each skill you have assessed against.
  2. A graduated rating scale instead of a binary yes or no against all levels relevant for your assessment (see appendix). This can provide a richer picture to inform the overall assessment.
  3. A diagnostic, micro-assessment against each of the indicators within the skill-at-a-level description

 

Notes
  • A single level number for a skill does not imply that you have skills to perform all the activities describe in lower levels. If that is important for the purpose of the self-assessment you should also assess against all the relevant lower levels.
  • SFIA does not define technology, methods, approaches or technical knowledge because these change rapidly but the underlying skills are more persistent. However, these elements can be mapped against SFIA skills, and act as skill attributes.
  • The individual skill levels you select are likely to be closely linked to your overall / dominant Level of Responsibility (from step 1). This is because the SFIA level descriptions are based on the Level of Responsibility (see SFIA “Skill-at-a-level graphic”)
  • SFIA does not describe all skills at all 7 levels. This is a specific design feature which reflects that not all professional skills are applicable at all levels. This means that on occasions you may look for a SFIA skill-at-a-level it does not exist. In that case you will need to search for a related skill e.g.
    • Managing software development projects or teams are described in the SFIA skill called Programming/software development (PROG,) higher levels skills related to running systems development functions are described in the skill called Systems development management (DLMG).

Number of skills

  • There is no target for the number of SFIA skills an IT/Software Engineering / Digital professional should have
  • The appropriate number will be dependent on your own experience, the nature of your specialisation, the operating model and size of the organisations you have worked in, and on the structure of SFIA (e.g. some skill areas are decomposed to a lower level than others)
  • Taken in isolation, the total number of SFIA skills is not a significant measure of worth or value
  • More important is demonstrable value achieved from the skills you have

 

If the Skill-at-a-level description seems too low/too high for your experience, then consider the levels immediately above and below.

 

If you have chosen a level which is higher than your generic level from the previous steps, you should go back to confirm if you also match the higher generic level.

  • To be fully competent at a target skill level it is usually expected that you meet the Level of Responsibility characteristics at the same or higher level.
  • However, in some circumstances it can be very useful to identify your professional work experience at SFIA skill levels higher than your level of responsibility.
    • By doing this you can indicate areas where you are developing beyond the core competency level and/or you could be expected to execute some work activities requiring that level of skill

 

Evidencing your self-assessment


It is generally good practice to record evidence to support your self-assessment. In many use cases, recording your supporting evidence will be necessary to make further use of the self-assessment.

SFIA describes work-based responsibilities

  • It follows that an assessment of skills has to focus on your experience of doing something, in the workplace and that experience should preferably have been repeated more than once over a period of time
  • For this purpose; examples from your "body of work" are useful to support your assessment.

Notes

  • Examples from your "body of work" should meet the following criteria
    • They should relate to something that you have specifically done or achieved; not something that your team or colleagues have done
    • They should describe an activity that has already happened.
    • They are not intentions for the future or what you feel you could do if you were given an opportunity. Your skills assessment is focussed on demonstrated behaviours / achievements not about potential.

Recency of experience

  • Your skills assessment should be contemporary, meaning you could use any of the skills you selected, at the level you determined, to get a job done.
  • Generally, if you haven’t used a skill for a long period time, your ability to perform that skill will be significantly diminished. Your skill assessment should focus on the skills you have used in the last 5 years (+/- 2 years depending on the nature and level of the skill)
  • In some use cases it can be helpful to record skill levels older than this but try to distinguish them from your current skills. Older skills can be useful in a number of ways:
    • context for your current skill set / work experience
    • demonstrate to others how your career history and portfolio of skills have evolved over time.
    • Provides a complete skills inventory for organisational resourcing purposes, for example if a skill needs to be reactivated, brought back into currency, and utilised.

Application of knowledge not the acquisition of knowledge

  • Academic or theoretical knowledge can be a vital component of competency. However, SFIA's focus is on how that knowledge is applied to produce results in the workplace.
  • Being knowledgeable of and working across many disciplines does not mean you have the skills related to those disciplines E.g.
    • Working as an Enterprise Architect gives insights and exposures to many disciplines, but that does not mean you have those skills
    • Being the manager or CIO of many individuals or teams means you have a broad understanding of what your people do, but, it does not mean you have their skills or that you have higher skill levels than your team
    • Expert knowledge is not the same as a high level of competency. 
      • Level 6 or level 7 does not equate to being a deep subject matter expert. Instead, they equate to strategic / operational leadership in the relevant disciplines.


Record my work experience

Step 3 highlighted the option to support your self-assessment with evidence from your current / previous work-based responsibilities

 

 

Once you have finalised your SFIA skills and skill levels; you can create a record of how our work experience supports your assessment of your SFIA skills and skill levels. 

Examples

  • Annotate your CV / resume
  • Create a document which lists your SFIA skills and levels and provides a brief description of roles, jobs, projects, assignment from your work experience
  • Make sure you highlight what you have personally achieved, provides some sizing of the work and its impact,
  • Just a simple job title or project name will not provide enough detail to match what you have done with your assessed SFIA skill and skill level
  • Try merging the wording from your CV with the SFIA level description e.g.
    • As a designer/lead developer:
    • I worked with business analysts to understand requirements and transform that into High-level design and Low-level design for <<insert name of application>>
    • I coded, tested, debugged and documented <<insert name of applications>>.
    • I took responsible for the following stages of development: preparing work breakdown structure (WBS), conducting workshops for the team, resolving the queries for the complete delivery of the end-to-end project from requirement analysis through to the deployment into production

I provided inputs to project and quality plans for the overall project working directly with the Project Manager.

Next steps

You have now completed the self-assessment.

To maximise the value you get from this exercise, you should now put this into action.


Review the “why am I doing this section”.
  • How has your self-assessment helped you?
  • In going through the detailed self-assessment what other uses can you think of for your self-assessment.
  • When or how often would it be useful to update this self-assessment.

 

Examples


Assess myself against the needs of a particular job/role
  • complete a job application bringing focus to your strengths and skills
Find good ways of describing the breadth and depth of my experience
  • use some of the SFIA descriptors to bring your CV/resume to life
  • mix the SFIA wording with your work experience to provide a professional looking summary
Planning my next career steps.
  • looking at your self-assessment; explore the nearby SFIA skills or skill levels. which of these sound appealing? Think about what you would need to do to achieve them.
  • look at SFIA skills you do not possess; do any of those sound interesting or valuable for your current job or planned career steps?
  • look at other job roles - and the underlying skills
Developing high quality, focused, learning and development objectives
  • now create learning objectives based on the gap between your current skills/levels and the skills/levels you would like to develop.

 

Illustrations

Click on the links to view the image.

Level of responsibility assessment

SFIA skills assessment