How to define your skills and create your own personal development plan.
This article will help you to identify your own strengths and weaknesses in terms of the skill set that you currently possess. This can help you to address any weaknesses in your CV and take action to ensure that you are prepared for any awkward interview questions.
A Skills Audit is a way of building a complete overview of all of your skills and can be used at any stage in your career. It is particularly useful when you are just starting your working life, applying for jobs or considering a change of direction. It can also be used as a way to boost your confidence or identify any gaps in your skill set and is also a great way tospot any development areaswhich you need tobuild upon.
The Skills Audit can be used in many ways and should be a living document (just like your CV). This means that it can be added to over the course of your career. Ideally each time you gain a new skill you should update your Skills Audit, recording the new skills that you have gained whilst the details are still fresh in your mind.
There are many ways to complete a Skills Audit; the simplest method is to begin by recording all the skills that you have gained. Skills can be split into categories such as technical or job specific skills (such as specialist laboratory skills) and soft skills which can include communication, time management and negotiation.
Skills can be developed through activities at work, in the home, through hobbies, sports and other extra-curricular activities, so think about all of your activities when compiling your Skills Audit. Don"t forget that many skills are transferable, which means that they can be used in virtually any job role. A good example of a transferable skill is communication as it will form part of most jobs.
You can use your previous, current or potential job descriptions to gain information. Don"t be too selective at this stage you just want to gain a complete list of your skills. Try to record any courses that you have attended and also to identify any areas in which you have very limited or no skills at present.
Now you have a basic record, you can begin to identify the skills that you lack and consider how you are going to address this. An example: if computer skills are required in the field you are aiming for and you currently do not have any skills in this area then it may be appropriate for you to enrol on a course that will teach you the basics of IT.
As part of this process you can also identify the skills that you found easy to pick up, the skills that you liked. Try also to identify the skills that you found difficult to pick up, the ones that you struggled with. Look at these two skill sets and consider; which skills are you using at the moment? How important each skill is likely to be within your chosen career path and which skills you would like to develop? Answering these questions can help you to identify your next steps.
Consider how an employer will view your skill set. Do you have the skills that they are looking for? By using the results from your Skills Audit and viewing it objectively you can create the basis of a Personal Development Plan. This can be a simple document outlining a plan for how you are going to develop your skills further. Further development can be achieved through study, taking on extra responsibilities, or through hobbies and voluntary work. Thoroughly research your options, considering the costs and time involved.
By identifying your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as preparing a plan you can anticipate what kind of role will suit you best. You can now target employers effectively by researching them online and finding a match with your own skills. The knowledge that you have gained through this process will also help you to answer any tough questions positively and plan for your own personal development.
Rachel Michna - CV Master Careers
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