À l’échelle humaine: September 7, 2016

2016-2017 Issue 1

IMG_3981If you are joining us for the first time, welcome. This column is part of our ongoing series detailing a 7-Step Career Roadmap that aims to facilitate your professional transitions, be it a change in job, career or even country. We strive to build your career plan on clarity, confidence, and know-how, so that it tells a compelling, authentic story all the while maximizing your time, energy and resources.

So far we have completed the introspective and research stages, so we are clear on where we currently stand and have a solid, comprehensive, up-to-date understanding of what is required to reach our intended career destination. Now in our fourth chapter, we are gaining momentum as we go.

Step 4: My Gap Analysis

Step 4 is a natural continuation in our Roadmap series. In Step 1 we articulated your current professional profile, and through research in Steps 2 and 3 we completed a picture of what it takes to succeed in your occupation of choice. Using the same five elements as in Step 3, we are now identifying any gaps that exist between your professional portfolio today and your career goal tomorrow.

While completing this analysis, I invite you to focus on key priorities only. It may seem easier to just mark all relevant skillsets as possible gaps, but you should not be including peripheral nice-to-have items as obstacles to be overcome. This is precisely why the Roadmap requires you to conduct research as an objective exercise before comparing yourself to your findings. You already know that being selective will not do you any favours, but neither will allowing yourself to get overwhelmed. Planning to tackle a long list of gaps is neither realistic nor encouraging – and you need both pragmatism and motivation to succeed!

That being said, do not underestimate the need-to-have’s. Here are the five elements representing your possible gaps:

 

1. Are my language skills sufficient to succeed?

This should be evaluated within the specific context of your career goal. For those pursuing a career in sales or business development, particularly at the local or provincial level, bilingualism is an absolute requirement to engage potential clients and establish long-standing, mutually beneficial business relationships. Technical roles, on the other hand, such as instructional designers and software developers, place a priority on technical skills, so having an intermediate level of the second official language may be sufficient to establish yourself in the industry. It would be misleading to assume that all job candidates require perfect bilingualism, and your research from Step 3 has likely helped you determine the actual level required.

 

2. Do I possess the credentials required?

Here too, we seek to assess whether a particular diploma or certification is necessary for success or capable of setting you apart from the competition. If it can be a valuable card in your playing deck and you have not yet obtained it, it should be noted as a gap. These credentials may include a local diploma in Supply Chain & Logistics Management, certification by the Autorité des marchés financiers or additional training in the Adobe Creative Suite.

 

3. Do I need some specific work experience?

If you are eyeing a career in project management or personnel management, your prior research has likely identified the kind of work experience and job titles that will make you credible for these roles. Examples may include roles in project coordination, data analysis, outside sales and marketing assistance, among others. Perhaps your research has also uncovered the fact that your dream employer likes to promote from within the organization. If this is the case, employees are sometimes expected to start in a junior role to become familiar with the product line, so such experience becomes a gap for your long-term objectives.

 

4. Do I have all the soft skills?

Every job requires soft skills; the key is identifying which ones are vital in the role you are pursuing.

Eyeing a career in human resources? Candidates require discretion, approachability, and tact, in addition to a mastery of applicable laws and regulations.

Pursuing a technical or numbers-focused role? Story-telling and the ability to explain complex ideas in non-technical jargon are often cited by employers as essential, especially when working directly with internal and external clients.

If you are a journalist, you will have to be comfortable dealing with stress, tight deadlines, and developing a quick personal rapport with strangers.

Contrary to the first three elements of our gap analysis, you may want to ask a trusted third party for their honest feedback in assessing any gap in your soft skills!

 

5. Do I have a valuable, pertinent network? Do I know how to establish and nurture one?

Those entering a new industry or moving to a new city have likely already confronted this challenge. Although it may seem less concrete and perhaps more daunting, there are ways to address this gap as well! A relevant professional network is key to unlocking the doors (and windows!) to your career goals. We will discuss this further in Step 6.

 

This process of analysing your gaps is meant to be a practical, focused exercise so that your efforts and resources are optimized. The next time we meet, it will be to gather our courage and make a decision. Rest assured: once step 5 is complete, and even if filling the identified gaps does require time and investment, it’s much smoother sailing from here on in.

Connect with Maia and McGill’s School of Continuing Studies on LinkedIn.

This article was originally published in French in 24 heures Montréal

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