Described here is an outline of how to carry out a Gap Analysis – a basic structure which can be adjusted to suit a variety of situations.
The Gap Analysis is a relatively straightforward activity, but is a critically important one, so it should be carried out very carefully and very thoroughly.
Following a period of review and reflection, and research on the prospects of your current organisation and sector – or those you may be hoping to move into – the next stage is to carry out a Gap Analysis
It is an essential stage in career-professional development planning, because, when completed, it will be the foundation of your career-professional development plan, ensuring that your developmental activities are leading you towards the achievement of your objectives.
There are some variations of the approach (see final section below) but in essence it involves four stages:
- Analysing your current situation
- Analysing the requirements of your targeted situation – your objectives
- Identifying differences – gaps – between where you are now and where aim to be
- Listing and prioritising actions needed to fill the gaps
Analysing your current situation
Review and list the knowledge, understanding, experience, qualifications, expertise, qualifications, that you currently have.
Working with your line manager or human resource specialist (if staying with your current organisation), or an advisor or mentor (if planning to move to a different organisation or sector), is strongly recommended here, particularly to help you in identifying the attributes you will need in the future you have decided on.
Analysing future requirements
Identify and list the experience, knowledge, qualifications, expertise, that you will need to have in order to achieve your objectives.
This will include identifying:
- Specific Skills
- Experience of Best Practices
- Personal Image
which will be needed in the future situation you are aiming for.
The differences – the gaps – which you identify will be in the categories shown above – knowledge, understanding, specific skills, experience, qualifications, image.
However, you will need to go into detail for each one –as in, for example:
- Knowledge – of the new role, or activities in the new sector, in which you plan to work
- Understanding – of the culture of the organisational level, or the type of organisation, which you are aiming for
- Specific Skills – tools, techniques, software, perhaps foreign languages, used in that aimed-for situation
- Experience of Best Practices – in line with sector policies, procedures, in organisations or sectors
- Qualifications – current versions of relevant academic or professional development qualifications, and as evidence of continuous professional development
- Personal Image – appearance, attitude, level of motivation, behaviours
Listing and prioritizing actions
Take each item identified in your Gap Analysis, and decide on an action, an activity, which will be needed to fill the gap.
Prioritise these actions, in terms of factors such as:
- Value – to your profile
- Duration – needed to complete
- Financial Cost
- Personal Time Cost
Carry those actions forward to the next stage – the preparation and implementation of your Career-Development Plan.
Other uses of the Gap Analysis
As well as for Personal-Individual Career and Professional Development, the Gap Analysis technique is extremely useful in many business situations – such as: