How to Become Incredibly Competitive with a Career Gap Analysis

Use a career gap analysis to understand the gaps in your career and then develop a good, actionable career plan.

This gap analysis is the difference b/w where you want to be and where you are today.

By completing the gap analysis you will have a better idea of what you need to do to start closing the gaps.

This will also help you prioritize your gaps in your action plan.

The number and magnitude of your career gaps will depend on the size and type of the career change you are contemplating. The bigger the change the bigger will be the gap.

Career gap analysis process

You can undertake this analysis in a structured manner, in an unstructured manner or use a combination of both techniques. Go with whatever appeals to you but it is best if you can include some structured analysis.

The easiest and simplest way to do this is to take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns.

Call your first column heading "where you want to be", your last column heading "where you are today" and the column in the middle "the gap".

Information you enter in the columns "where you want to be" and "where you are today" will come from the respective exercises which you should have completed by now. If you have not done these exercises then it is best to do them first before you undertake the career gap analysis.

You can also divide your sheet of paper into several rows with each row related to a particular category. Your row headings can be the same categories you used when you assessed where you wanted to be and where you are today.

As I have said before the amount of time you devote to this exercise will again depend on the type and size of change you are contemplating.

If the change is big and there are considerable risks then spend a good portion of your time on the career gap analysis exercise.

If necessary revisit certain categories and review the gaps so you can refine it over time.

Two important gaps to look out for

As you go through your analysis it is possible that you will come up with several areas that have gaps. Pay particular attention to two important gaps:

  • Position gaps, and
  • Competency gaps

A combination of Position gaps and Competency gaps will give you (1) an idea of how big the career gap is between your present position and your future position and (2) what competencies such as unique skills, knowledge and experiences you will need to work in that position.

You will have a better idea about your competency gaps by doing a career skill and competency assessment. It will be good at this point if you don't get too caught up on something that seems impossible or not within your current capabilities. I know many people who have overcome big odds to get to where they really want to be. You can do it too! You just have to figure out the different ways and means to get there.

Six questions to ask as you review your career gaps

Ask yourself the following questions and write down your thoughts on your career gap analysis sheet:

  1. What do I know about the position I am aiming for?

  2. What type of work will I be required to do in that position?

  3. What will be my role and responsibilities?

  4. What type of competencies or knowledge, skills and experiences will I need to be considered for that position?

  5. What type of competencies or knowledge, skills and experiences will I need to be successful in that position?

  6. Are there any unique competencies such as specific technical skills, language skills or cultural appreciation that I will need in that position?

You should be able to write the answers to these questions quite easily if you have done sufficient research about the position or job you desire.

If you are having difficulty answering these questions then it is time to do a bit of research. Collecting first hand information from several sources about your new positionis an important initial step so go back and spend some time on it if you have not already done so.

Completing your gap analysis

Once you have gone through all the categories you listed in your career gap analysis sheet it is time to take one final look. Go over the three columns and make an assessment of what your key gaps are. Pay particular attention to the Position gaps and Competency gaps so you have an idea of the most important things you need to be focusing on in your action plan.

You can also include the other categories in your analysis such as your interests, personal situation, etc to make your gap analysis more comprehensive.

How big is your career gap?

As you go through the analysis you should be starting to get an idea of the size of the change and the sort of things you need to start considering in your action plan.

To guide you in this process the list below will help you establish the magnitude of the career change you are considering. As you go down the list the size of the change gets bigger and more complex.

  • Further development in current job (e.g. taking on more responsibilities, wider scope, etc.)

  • Moving to a new job in the same area/profession (e.g. lateral or promotional move)

  • Moving to a new job in a new area/profession (e.g. moving cross-functionally)

  • Moving to a new job in a new company

This is just a basic list to get you started. There can be other combinations but usually it is one of the above four.

Remember the amount of time you spend thinking and planning your career change should be directly proportionate to the size of the change! Otherwise you might be in for trouble later on and pay for a hastily considered change.

Use the above list as a guide.

You are now ready to put together your action plan or career development plan.

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