Sometimes the next step in your career is obvious: you climb the career ladder from promotion to promotion. But sometimes the path ahead is less obvious.
That’s when it can help to take a skills audit. By examining all your professional strengths and weaknesses, you can discover what you need to work on to achieve that dream job or to find a new career that suits your skills.
Here’s how you can start auditing your skills to explore the next steps in your career.
Review your job description and the skills required
The first step is to examine what you’re doing in your current role. Look over your job description, consider whether you’ve taken any extra responsibilities, and write down the skills that you need in order to get the job done.
“Referring back to your calendar and to-do lists can help you remember all of your wins and successes. Write them all down, no matter how small, and soon you’ll start seeing a pattern of what you do well,” says the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
Think of the skills you use outside work
Your current job may not be stretching you and getting a role that is truly satisfying may require some additional skills. Luckily, you may already possess them – you might just be putting them to use outside work instead.
“It may be helpful to ask your colleagues (past or present) close friends, classmates, or even family about your strong points. They may be able to identify your personal qualities and skills much more objectively than you,” says Yvette McKenzie at the training company Upskilled.
Don’t forget your soft skills
So-called ‘soft skills’ such as communication or time management can become even more important the further on you get in your career. So it’s important not to neglect them in your audit.
“When I work with people coaching them in their career we look at their whole lives because we really need to take a holistic view of ourselves,” says career coach Belinda Jackson. “Most of us don’t have segmented lives and I believe we should look at all our talents and interests.”
Test against your career plan
Now you can match up your skills to your long-term goals, or use the picture of your abilities that the audit has produced to think about where your talents could be best deployed. Careers consultant Michelle Gibbins recommends thinking about the future of your industry too, so you stay relevant.
“Critically examine where your industry and profession is heading, and look at related and connected sectors,” she says. “What are you seeing in terms of change, and what does this mean for the skills, knowledge and competencies you need in the future?”
Identify opportunities for developing new skills
“After auditors examine a company’s books, they make a list of recommendations detailing how the business can improve its operations and profitability,” says CIMA. “Do the same in your skills audit.”
That might mean identifying a training course or tackling a weakness in your soft skills by engaging in some volunteer work. Once you’ve filled the CV gaps, you can get on with applying for your dream job.