To maintain your own employability, you need to develop capabilities to acquire new skills on your own or develop those which are necessary for career success.

Today, you will find out how to assess your own skills, how to perform skills gap analysis and how to read the job ads to be able to tailor your resume to succeed in the selection process.

In previous article ‘Strategic Approach to Your Career’ I asked you to set yourself career goals. Those goals should be precisely defined to make sure you are focused on a specific area of expertise required for the particular job, industry or even company. The objective of the exercise was to define job title(s) of your dream job. The next step will be the assessment of your skills portfolio, a benchmarking process and skill gap analysis in order to create a self-development plan.

In every job ad, you can easily see two sections: required skills and future responsibilities. Those two give you an indication of who the company is looking for, and what tasks the person is expected to perform.
Those two sections should be a basis for the evaluation of your knowledge and the portfolio of your current skills, abilities and competencies.

KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, ABILITIES AND COMPETENCIES
There is a difference between knowledge, skills, abilities and competences. So, before we continue, let’s dive into each of them.

Knowledge is simply the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject, an awareness of some facts, acquired through experience, observation or learning process.
Skills are your ability and capacity, acquired through systematic and sustained effort, to carry out complex activities or job functions.
There are also your abilities, which are acquired or natural talent or power to successfully perform a set of tasks under particular circumstances.
Lastly, huge word now: competencies. They are defined as the applied skills and knowledge, that enable a person to act successfully and effectively in a job.

Skills can be developed and improved over time, by combining your abilities and knowledge. But the underlying abilities are necessary for the skills to be developed.
To give you an example: if you were a football player, you may be very good at juggling the ball. This is a skill, which you would not be able to perform without the ability to move quickly, be flexible, which is down to your muscles and physical condition.

Competencies specify how the job tasks are performed and what the person needs to do the job successfully. They are used for a spectrum of human resources activities including:
– assessing and selecting candidates for a job
– assessing and managing employee performance
– workforce planning
– employee training and development

SKILLS PORTFOLIO
As you know, from the previous article in the Career Brand Management series, career brand has two components: the emotional one which is personal image, and the functional – which is your marketable skills.
Those are generally divided into two categories:
hard skills – Hard skills are teachable abilities or skill sets that are easy to quantify. They might be specific to an industry or a trade or a profession.
soft skills – non cognitive skills or personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.
Soft skills are a combination of interpersonal people skills, social skills, communication skills, character traits, attitudes and emotional intelligence. They are desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on an acquired knowledge.

You might have come across the term ‘transferable skills ‘ or ‘portable skills‘. Those are non job specific skills, that you can take with you, and can be effectively used to serve another employer. Decision-making, leadership, communication or problem-solving are good examples of desirable transferable skills.

You should take some time to reflect on your own portfolio of skills and list your hard skills, soft skills and transferable skills. The list will be a very handy when it comes to creating your LinkedIN profile, tailoring your resume and writing your motivational letter.

HOW TO READ A JOB AD AND TAILOR YOUR RESUME
When companies and recruiters look for a candidate, they list the required knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies. When reading the job ad, take some time to spot the key requirements, list them as keywords and make sure that your resume and your motivational letter contain them.
In most cases, your CV goes first via electronic system that scans the documents for job titles and set of keywords. A final selection that passes the system, ends on the HR person’s desk. This means that it is critical for you to always tailor your resume and the motivational letter, to pass the preliminary selection process.

career brand skills assesement

SKILLS GAP ANALYSIS – PRACTICAL EXERCISE
Look at the previous week’s article, what was your career goal, what was the job you wanted? Got it? You should have a define job title(s) for this. To be able to succeed in your career you have to develop skills that are critical for your dream job. Which are those? Check any recent job ads for your dream job and make a list of required skills.

What is between your current role and the dream role is either the expertise level, the experience or the set of skills. Remember, while the expertise and experience often come with time, the skills are something you can actively develop.
Now, search for a recent job ads for your dream position and list the key requirements, with a focus on skills. Examine the job description and break down skills areas and required  mastery level.
You should have at least five on your list. Try to assess your level of mastery in each of them on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being none and 10 being excellent. You should be able to benchmark yourself based on to-date experience and peer comparison.

As a result, you should spot the skills that need an improvement. Make a priority list of critical skills and plan how to develop those, probably best, one at the time. To do it efficiently you should:
– define a reasonable time frame to develop the skills
– set a mastery level you want to reach

Let me give you an example. If you would like to be a Sales Director, a critical skill could be leading weekly meetings and regular sales training. You do not feel comfortable speaking in front of the group, and you would like to improve your presentation skills. You have the skill to focus on, now set yourself a time, how many weeks or months do you need?
What mastery level you would like to achieve? And of course very importantly, how would you like to do that?
Think, what courses could you attend? How could you practice?
List the obstacles, if you feel there is something that would prevent you from developing the skill. Then try to see how to overcome it.

If you would like to develop in depth knowledge of online advertising, perhaps a course in Google Advertising would be an idea. Do you have the resources, money and time to commit? You may consider the online resources, that are cheaper and offer more flexible learning system.

ACTION PLAN
1. Set yourself a clear career goal and define dream job titles
2. Assess your current portfolio of skills
3. Benchmark your skills against those required for your dream job
4. Conduct skills gap analysis
5. Set self-development plan to acquire new or develop existing skill to needed mastery level

NEXT WEEK

Stay tuned for more tips on Career Brand Development. Next week you will find out how to market yourself. I will give you a few tips on creating your professional resume and LinkedIN profile.