How to Create a Skills Matrix for Success [Free Template]

Written by Erik van Vulpen
8 minutes read

Knowing which skills and competencies are needed for your organization to succeed and whether your workforce has them helps you make better talent management decisions. A skills matrix is the key to tracking this data. This article covers what a skills matrix is, why it’s useful, and how you can build one. Let’s dive in!

What is a skills matrix?
Why use a skills matrix?
Benefits of a skills matrix
How to create a skills matrix
Skills matrix examples
Best practices for implementing a skills matrix
Skills matrix template

What is a skills matrix?

A skills matrix, also referred to as competency matrix or capability matrix, is a tool to map the necessary and available skills for a team or project. A completed skills and competency matrix visualizes the skills that are required, the skills that are available, and the skills that are missing.

By monitoring existing skill sets and identifying skills gaps, leaders can effectively allocate work to the right people and plan for acquiring needed skills.

HR professionals collaborate with department heads and team leaders to understand the specific skills needed to perform different tasks and achieve organizational goals. By working closely with managers, HR can ensure the accuracy of the skills matrix by capturing all relevant skills and competencies.

What should be included in a skills matrix?

A skills matrix is a grid that displays employees’ names corresponding with the following components:

  • Skill/Competency/Capability – Each element that is required to carry out the project.
  • Proficiency – A number value placed on each employee’s level of proficiency for every required skill. 
  • Interest – A number value for how motivated each employee is in applying themselves to or developing the required skills. 

Let’s have a look at a skills matrix example of a people analytics task force:

Skills Matrix Example

Why use a skills matrix?

There are two general purposes for using a skills matrix:

1. Assessing the required skills for a project or team

A skills matrix produces an overview of the skills that are required to complete a job or project successfully. It helps define the key activities of the team and the relevant skills or competencies required to accomplish these activities.

2. Gaining insight into the available skills within a team

A skills matrix for employees assesses the available skill sets in the team before the project starts to help ensure a better outcome. For example, if an HR analytics project requires business acumen, IT skills, data analytics capabilities, and reporting capabilities, you need to find out which people on the team have which skills.

If there’s a particular skill that’s missing, you can hire an employee with the relevant skills to add to the team. Doing this before the project starts helps ensure a better outcome.

Benefits of a skills matrix

An employee skills matrix helps drive performance in multiple ways. It benefits not only the company overall, but also teams, individuals, and stakeholders. 

Here’s a quick look at what a capability matrix has to offer: 

  • An overview of skills – It’s difficult, even for managers, to ascertain exactly what every employee does or could contribute to the organization based on their roles. A skills matrix gathers details that provide comprehensive data on currently available skills at the individual, team, and organizational levels. It can also help you identify highly valuable employees who have a wide range of capabilities.
  • Insight into skills gaps – A skills matrix exposes where skills are missing within different teams and levels of the company. You can address these weak spots to save time and resources and improve business functions. 
  • Opportunities for learning and development – By pinpointing which competencies need to be cultivated, L&D leaders and managers can focus on applicable training programs and individualized professional development plans for employees. 
  • Communication of expectations – This tool helps you show individuals and teams what skill levels they need to achieve to be able to perform well. When employees have a clear picture of where they make the strongest contributions and what they need to work on, they can direct their energy into upskilling themselves to achieve more.
  • Internal mobility and redistribution of talent possibilities – Understanding exactly what skills are required and available throughout the organization allows leaders to shuffle team structures and reallocate people to new positions where they can maximize or develop their talents best. This can also cut back on external recruitment efforts when suitable internal candidates can be easily identified.  
  • Improved talent acquisition – When you’re able to identify which skills a team or organization is missing, you can target the most qualified applicants for positions. Knowing precisely what you’re looking for from the talent pool can speed up the hiring process and bring in the best fit for the role.
  • Building skills-based organizations – The future of work involves deconstructing roles into essential tasks and valuing employees for their skills and contributions more than their education or job title. A skill mapping matrix is a valuable tool for breaking down which capabilities are required and available to complete projects and achieve results. 
Skills Matrix Benefits

How to create a skills matrix

The following steps will help you formulate a skills matrix:

1. Define the relevant skills

Start by working with key stakeholders to determine the pertinent skills and core competencies needed to form a team or complete the project. This will also isolate the criteria for assessing team members’ performance. Evaluating which skills are missing helps prevent the team from missing deadlines, internal conflict, or other costs later on.

Stay focused on the primary requirements to streamline the skills matrix.

For the best results in improving team performance, managers and HR collaborate on creating skills matrices.

2. Assess team members on their current skill levels

The second step is to evaluate team members on their current skill levels. You can mix and match different assessment methods, such as:

For each skill, rank a person’s proficiency. Here is an example of a five-point scale:

  • 0 = No experience or knowledge
  • 1 = Limited experience or knowledge
  • 2 = Reasonable experience or knowledge
  • 3 = Considerable experience or knowledge
  • 4 = Expert experience or knowledge

You can also use a different scale, but make sure you’re consistent.

3. Determine a person’s interest in working on the proposed tasks

Discovering who has the right competencies is only half the battle. Employees must have the ambition to use and develop the required skills to stay engaged with their work. 

For each skill, have employees indicate their level of interest in it. This can be a very straightforward rating system:  

  • 1 = No interest in applying this skill or knowledge
  • 2 = Interested in applying this skill or knowledge

4. Incorporate all information in the skills matrix and act on the insights

You can use the data from your competency matrix to understand which proficiencies you have on board and where the deficiencies are. The visual nature of the skills matrix helps you see the strengths and opportunities for improvement quickly and clearly.

Put the information into action by setting goals for what still needs to be done. This may include developing a plan for conducting skills training or recruiting new employees to fill in a skills gap.

5. Keep the skills matrix up to date

To have relevant data at your fingertips, you need to keep skills matrices current with updated data. Continually reviewing them is also the way to track and monitor the progress and impact of learning and development investments and prepare for future needs.

Skills matrix examples

A skill level matrix provides a comprehensive overview of the skills and competencies present within a team or organization, enabling effective resource allocation, targeted training and development initiatives, and informed decision-making for project assignments.

Here’s a look at some examples of skills matrices for three different situations:

Product manager skills matrix

Product Manager Skills Matrix

Board member skills matrix

Board Member Skills Matrix Example

IT skills matrix

IT Skills Matrix Example

Download a skills matrix template for Excel below and start analyzing your teams’ skills data!

Best practices for implementing a skills matrix

To take your skills management system beyond the basics, here are some best practices to enhance how you use a skills matrix: 

  • Balance soft and hard skills – It’s easy to put the main focus on technical skills, but it’s essential to also include soft skills in a skills matrix. When it comes to getting work done, perseverance, strong communication, and problem-solving abilities can often make up for having less technical experience. Both types of skills are critical to the performance and competitiveness of the organization.
  • Engage stakeholders – Communicate the purpose and benefits of the skills matrices to managers, team leaders, and employees. When people understand how to use the matrices can to their advantage, they will feel more enthusiastic about investing time into them and giving their best input.
  • Align the skills matrix with career paths – Showing employees where they stand concerning the skills required for the next step on their professional journey gives them a clear picture of which areas they need to develop. When they can see exactly what they need to do, progress toward their career goals will seem more tangible, which helps keep them motivated.
  • Research various approaches to skills mapping – Find ways to visually present the skills within your organization to meet different needs. For example, you can experiment with skills-focused talent mapping
  • Consider using skills matrix software – Although it’s possible to use standard software for skills matrices, a specialized program makes creation and management more efficient and consistent. It can also help you glean more comprehensive information. Some skills matrix software programs to consider include:

Skills matrix template

Download a free skills matrix Excel template and start creating your skills matrix today!

Skills Matrix Template Excel

To conclude

The ever-evolving business climate compels organizations to access relevant, up-to-date data to make swift decisions and changes. Skills matrices reveal the makeup of your workforce’s skill sets. With this knowledge, you can maximize the available talent and develop the areas that need attention to advance organizational goals.


What is the function of a skills matrix in talent management?

A skills matrix is a tool for assessing, visualizing, and managing the skills and competencies of individuals within an organization. This data can be used to, for example:
– get an overview of skills gaps,
– effectively equip teams and organize projects with the necessary skills, and
– make training and development and recruitment decisions.

What are the objectives of a skills matrix?

The process of creating a skills matrix gauges the required skills for a team or project and evaluates which of those skills are available in the current talent pool. It also helps understand the skill levels of individual team members.

What skills are in a skills matrix?

A skills matrix will include the key skills, both hard and soft, needed to fulfill a project, role, or team.

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Erik van Vulpen

Erik van Vulpen is the founder and Dean of AIHR. He is an expert in shaping modern HR practices by bringing technological innovations into the HR context. He receives global recognition as an HR thought leader and regularly speaks on topics like People Analytics, Digital HR, and the Future of Work.

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