Are you interested in growing your career and your skill sets? Having trouble figuring out what skills might be important to work on, to help you get the opportunities you’re most interested in? Then it might be time for you to do a skills gap analysis.
What is a skills gap analysis?
As you manage your career, whenever you want to apply for a promotion, decide to apply for a role in a new organization, or are managing a team and need to evaluate if you have the right skillset for the next strategic move, you should conduct a skills gap analysis, encompassing both soft skills and technical skills. A skills gap analysis isn’t a one-and-done business activity; this is something you can come back to over and over in your career.
You likely already do a skills gap analysis informally when you read internship and job postings. As you read, you mentally decide if you are a fit for the work or not based on your perceived abilities. In this exercise we ask you to do the same, but in a more formal process.
3 steps to conducting a successful skills gap analysis
There are three critical steps to a skills gap analysis in the job search: determine the skills and skill levels needed for the positions you are interested in, determine your existing skills, and address any gaps. Here’s each in more depth:
1. Identify the skills needed—and the level of proficiency required.
The first step is to consider which skills are needed to meet the minimum requirements of a position. Review the job posting carefully and list the technical and soft skills they outlined. Sometimes, you need to read between the lines to determine specific skills they seek.
For example, if the organization wants to focus on maximizing productivity, they want candidates with skills that will help achieve that goal. This could be data collection, measurement, and analysis; project management skills; or results-orientation.
In addition to job postings, you should also look at trends related to the future of work. This is information you should ask for in informational interviews. Some examples:
- Are there skills that are becoming more prevalent, or just expected candidates will have?
- What technology will your organization need to adapt to—and build roles around?
- How are positions changing to adapt to the needs resulting from social distancing?
- When you have a list of required skills, make a note of the desired skill level for each critical skill (e.g., basic, intermediate, advanced).
2. Measure your existing skills.
The next step is to determine the skills you currently possess. This can feel daunting, but think about:
- Performance reviews
- Academic feedback
- Awards you won
- Skills assessments (Strengthsquest, MBTI, etc.)
- Accomplishments on your resume
- List those skills, and compare the results with the skill sets required by the organizations you reviewed. Make note of any gaps to address. Also note if you need to develop a more advanced competency level (up-skill), or if you need to start from scratch (re-skill).
3. Address skills gaps.
Once you understand where you have room to develop more competencies, or see the skills gap between what is required and what you currently have, you can create your strategy.
There are a number of ways you can develop new skills. Taking a class outside of your major, earning certifications, volunteering for a role that is new to you, engaging in free classes available at IU, or exploring others offered online from other institutions. It is again best practice to ask in an informational interview how that person would recommend you get the experience you are lacking, and how to best demonstrate that new proficiency to the organization in your application materials and interview.
Ready to do your own skills gap analysis?
Now that you know what a skills gap analysis is, and why it can be valuable, you might want to start working on that self assessment! We’ve created a helpful template to walk you through the steps, which you can find here: Skills Gap Analysis Guide/Template