The Gap Analysis Technique

This is an excellent technique for planning out the initial stages of your career and focusing your job search toward areas of positive change. Do a survey of the job postings from at least two or three major job sites (including CollegeGrad.com). Print out all the ads for positions you might want to have at some point in the future. Take it all the way up the line to VP and President, if that is your mission. Then, in three separate documents, accumulate the following information from these ads:

Page #1: List all of the job responsibilities, duties, tasks, and functions.

Page #2: List all of the experience, skills, and knowledge required.

Page #3: List all the keywords or industry buzzwords.

In analyzing the information, note where you are now in relation to where you want to be in the future. Take note of any and all gaps, present or future. Then checkmark all the gaps you can close before you enter the entry level job market and lay out detailed plans for how to close those gaps. If there are buzzwords you are not familiar with, make sure you research them to gain full understanding. Keep your gap analysis information for future reference and update it as your career progresses.

Work on closing the gaps as much as possible between your academic career and the entry level career you are seeking. As the gaps are reduced or eliminated, the decision becomes easier—for you and the employer. Then continue to identify and close the future gaps as you progress in your career.