Mind the gap – How to identify your transferrable skills – and what to do about the spaces
What do you think of when someone mentions an audit?
Here’s a Wiki definition.
‘A systematic and independent examination of books, accounts, statutory records, documents and vouchers of an organisation to ascertain how far the financial statements, as well as non-financial disclosures, present a true and fair view of the concern.’
Very important we’re sure, but are we the only ones who are falling asleep?
So, when we talk about a personal skills audit, please dismiss the above description from your brain. We’re talking about something much more interesting. A tool that will give you vital information about your transferrable skills – and highlight what you can do to make yourself more employable.
We all gain knowledge and skills as we plough our career paths and live our lives. You can think of it as a knowledge bank. But every now and then you need to take stock of what’s in that bank.
So where to begin? Well, the best place to start is….
1. Where you are now
All you need is a pen and paper. Make yourself a grid with skills, knowledge and experience as column headings, and technical, behavioural and functional as row headings. Then think about all the elements of your life – your current and past work, your family, your social life, and start to fill in the grid. Don’t worry if you can’t complete it all at once, doing it over the course a couple of weeks is a good idea, as new information will occur to you as you go about your everyday life.
2. Where you are going
You need to objectively examine the industry you want to work in and the type of job you want to do. Create a similar grid and look at job descriptions that appeal to you. Talk to people you know doing a similar role or working in that industry. Using the information you gain, complete the grid.
3. Look for the gaps
Once you feel happy you have completed both grids, you can compare the two and see where the gaps in your own version appear. You might like to qualify this by whether you are totally lacking or have some degree of expertise in the areas required. List out the areas that you have identified as needing work. And then ….
4. Create a plan to close them
How can you fill those gaps and develop or strengthen your skills? This could be through mentoring, reading books, attending courses, networking. Or it could be through taking temporary work or working on a new hobby. It’s good to put some timescales around your plan; that way it is more likely to happen. Set yourself step by step goals so that you can hold yourself accountable and measure your progress.
As you work through this process, you need to think laterally. For example, perhaps you spent a summer working in a bar. Your skills here are not serving drinks. They are interpersonal skills, diffusing difficult situations, working accurately under pressure, and mental agility. Think like this and you can start to see how you can apply those skills to other jobs.
Once you get into an interview situation, you should be comfortable with knowing what transferrable skills you have. Remember to think through examples. It’s not enough to say ‘I’m highly adaptable’, you need an example that clearly demonstrates it.
Have you ever done or thought about doing a personal audit and identifying your transferrable skills? And if so, were you surprised by the range of things you do and take for granted? Let us know; we’d love to hear about your experiences.