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The Skills Matrix

A Tool to See Your Skills and Experience Gaps

Posted on October 3, 2022
A grid composed of 9 squares with nothing in them.

When you get ready to apply for a new position, typically it begins with reviewing your resume or CV to ensure it is up-to-date. But to be truly ready for a job hunt that involves taking the next step up the ladder, you should begin at least a year in advance. Why? No one has every skill or required experience listed in a job description – nor should they. And as a reminder, women typically only apply for jobs where they have 100% or darn close to 100% of the requirements while men will apply holding far less. You should consider a position for which you have between 60% and 70% of the requirements, which may mean you have to build upon your skills and experience to be ready to apply for that next great position.

The key is to understand your personal skill gaps and how they impact your job application. As we all know, the job of the resume or CV is to highlight your skills and accomplishment, but how do you see and recognize the gaps? I have a plan for that! It’s called a skills matrix.

Similar to a resume or CV, I have developed a skills matrix where you catalog your skills, experience, and accomplishments. The difference is you’re going to do so by the type of experience. So, go back to the types of positions you want to pursue as you seek to enhance your career. Make a list of the types of skills and experience required. Look for words such as leadership, organizational skills, communication skills, problem-solving, creativity, or management. You also want to look for more specific skills such as budget management, strategic planning, coding, data analytics, or graphic design.

Once you have the list of experience types and specific skills, add them as column heads to your Matrix, as seen below:

A screen shot of a blank excel file with headers listing communication, management, creativity, etc. across the top.

Next, you want to review your resume and I hope you are using a master resume to catalog everything you have done in your career experience thus far. As a reminder, this is not a resume you would send to anyone. It is for informational purposes only. For each position, you need to write a tailored resume or CV. So, review your master resume for examples by experience and skill type. Add one experience or skill per row in each column until you have listed all of your relevant experience and skills. Be specific, but concise – this does not need to read well, no one needs to see this. It might look something like this:

 Screen shot of an excel sheet with skills and experience outlined in rows under columns such as communication, leadership, creativity.

Note: the blocks in green indicate positions of leadership. 

While you have pulled this information from your resume or CV – a text-based document – the matrix is visual. You can actually see the gaps in your experience and skillsets. In the example above, the person has plenty of leadership experience, but little actual management experience. They also have some leadership experience, but not as much experience showcasing their creativity. The matrix provides a roadmap for you to see your gaps, thus allowing you to build out your experience and skills, so you will be ready for that next career move.

Best of luck,

Anne Converse Willkomm
Associate Dean, Graduate College
Associate Teaching Professor, Dept. of Communication, College of Arts & Sciences
Drexel University
Posted in professional-development-career-tips, leadership-management-skills