Are You Ready to Move Up? Find Out With a Skills Audit

skills audit

You’ve worked hard to get to where you are in your career, but smart finance professionals know not to rest on their laurels. To keep up and move up, you need to know where you should make improvements. There’s no better way to begin than to perform a skills audit.

Why conduct a skills audit

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and put career aspirations on the back burner. Conducting an annual skills audit allows you to identify which skills you’ve gained over the past year and what gaps you need to fill in order to reach your professional goals. When you take the time to do a self-assessment, you may be surprised at how far you’ve come — and what else you need to do in order to go further.

How to conduct a skills audit

You’re familiar with auditing a company’s financial situation. Fortunately, a skills audit is simpler than that. Start by creating a list, spreadsheet or flowchart; the means of organizing the information isn’t as important as what you’ll discover. Ask yourself the following:

1. What have I achieved?

List the accomplishments you’re most proud of. As you do, note the skills — both technical and interpersonal — you used to excel at each task. Were your monthly or quarterly statements flawless and on time? If so, you have excellent accounting and time management skills. Has senior management accepted and implemented all your recommendations? That’s probably because you possess top-notch business knowledge and presentation abilities.

Referring back to your 2014 calendar and to-do lists can help you remember all of your wins and successes. Write them all down, no matter how small, and soon you’ll start seeing a pattern of what you do well.

2. What can I do better?

In your skills audit of the past year, you’ll likely see some areas where you can improve. Has your manager mentioned that your reports contain unnecessary jargon? Perhaps it’s time for a business writing course to banish those buzzwords. Do you wish you had stronger leadership abilities? Are you interested in volunteering to chair a professional association’s subcommittee? Do you feel you should have a firmer foundation in your country’s compliance and regulatory issues? Continuing education will give you the information you need to stay current. A workplace mentor can also help with your skills audit and make suggestions.

3. What do I need for the future?

After auditors examine a company’s books, they make a list of recommendations detailing how the business can improve its operations and profitability. Do the same in your skills audit. To move ahead, you may need to pursue another certification, an MBA or an international business degree. Be as honest with yourself as you are with your clients, and write up the action items you need to take in order to advance.

A skills audit is crucial to your professional development, so take the time to review your yearly performance. Doing so will shed light on your strengths and weaknesses and help you identify which new competencies you’ll need to go further in your career.  

Do you perform skills audits? How have they helped your career? Share in the comments section below.