A skills audit is recommended to anyone who’s at the beginning of a career transition. This may be changing companies, changing job titles or completely changing your career path.
Why you should complete a Skills Audit
Career transitions are often terrifying, exciting and challenging. Why? Because changing careers is risky. However, even though companies prefer to hire people who are already experienced at what they do, there are hiring manager’s out there who hire based on the characteristics and skills that make an individual stand out, rather than their previous experience.
So, if you’re going to convince the hiring manager that you’ve got what it takes for the role (despite it being new to you), you’ve got to optimise the characteristics that make you valuable! You have to create a narrative that minimises the skill set you don’t have and magnifies those you do. So much so that your inexperience within that field or job is something that the hiring manager is willing to ignore for now and work on later.
But, in order for you to sell yourself in your CV or in an interview, you need to make yourself aware of where your skillset lies and where you may need some help. This is where the skills audit comes in…
How to complete a Skills Audit
Strengths and Weaknesses
Complete a skills self-assessment to identify where your strengths and weaknesses may be. There’s loads of free self-assessment tools online, but as a Newcastle University alumnus, this is the one I used – Newcastle University’s Careers Service Skills Self-Assessment.
Pay attention to your strengths. Your strengths are what will instil the self-confidence needed to push you through any bouts of imposter syndrome: ‘the feeling you’ll always get when you’re stretching yourself past your comfort zone and trying something new’. Identifying and accepting your strengths will give you the motivation to walk into an interview (or virtual interview) imbued with a stronger sense of what you have to offer. The more you believe in yourself, the better your ability to sell yourself to the hiring manager and the more they are likely to believe in you too!
Areas of Improvement and your personal development plan
If you complete your skills audit and find you come up short, that’s fine! Now you’ve identified where you need to improve, you can begin to work on it. You can’t be an expert at everything, so choose the top 3 things you want to get better at and make those a priority. Your top 3 should be inspired by what you are actually interested in combined with the skill set that is compatible to the job or industry you want.
A lot of companies are offering free educational courses and webinars due to corona virus limiting in-person interactions. So, if you do some research you’ll probably find a gold mine of free educational content!
How your skills audit translates into your job-search
Knowing your skillset, what you’re great at and where you want to improve directly translates into giving you a better target when it comes to job-hunting. Ask yourself the following questions to focus your job applications and save yourself some time and energy:
- What do I have to offer that makes me a valuable candidate, despite my inexperience within this field? Think about what you identified your strengths to be. For example – your determination, hunger for success, ability to communicate with clients and personable nature, ability to analyse data or your innovative nature?
- Am I aware of the specific areas in which I need to improve so that I can excel in this job? Make these your priority when it comes to designing your personal development plan.
- Does the job role come with a personal development plan that will help me reach my goals? Does the company seem like it has a supportive and talent-enabling culture? You could be the most driven and hard-working person in the world, but without support from more experienced colleagues or coaches, it might be really difficult for you to advance quickly.
Finally, unless you are going for a very senior position, you shouldn’t be required to know everything as soon as you walk into a new job. A good company and team will help you overcome your inexperience by investing time in your personal development and making use of internal mentors.