Self-audit – how to recognise and develop your personal skills
Ever stopped to think about what it is you’re trying to achieve in life – professionally or personally? We’ve all been there. What many of us might not realise, however, is that this type of behaviour is known as self-auditing.
And, whether you’re unhappy in your career and looking for a change, or perfectly comfortable where you are, everyone should self-audit at least once year.
That’s the belief of New York-based career coach and founder of the website Working in the USA. Belinda Jackson is an Australian who, among her other activities, offers help and advice to Australians living and working in the US. She says a good time to self-audit is prior to a performance review.
How to do it
Self-auditing involves looking at all your skills – your soft skills as well as your career-based skills. “When I work with people coaching them in their career we look at their whole lives because we really need to take a holistic view of ourselves,” says Jackson. “Most of us don’t have segmented lives and I believe we should look at all our talents and interests.
“The skills that we use in our personal life with our hobbies, interests and family are also skills we can apply in the workplace.”
Jackson recommends people do a personal audit of their skills and interests by asking:
- What are you currently doing, work-wise?
- Review your job description and the skills involved. Is this what your job is? Is there anything else that you do?
- What are the skills that you use in your personal life? For example, you may work in accounts in your real job but look after social media for the tennis club.
- What are your interests and hobbies?
- What are the skills you really enjoy using?
- Make sure you include all your soft skills. Do you like solving puzzles; do you like being given a project and then running with it; do you like connecting people; are you a good listener; are you a good interviewer?
- What courses would you be interested in? If you’re enjoying social media, for example, you could always look into courses to improve your knowledge and understanding of specific platforms. Also, try perusing courses at local community colleges and organisations. Or look into what your workplace offers, including courses that may not be specifically in your area. Coursera.com and Udemy.com offer free and affordable courses online.
- What kind of volunteer work would interest you? This is another great avenue to develop new skills.
Self-auditing also applies to people who are looking at career transitioning.
“People have a vision about what law is going to be like, for example, and they find themselves billing for every six minutes and finding it really stressful; hunkering through detailed documents and not enjoying it that much," says Ms Jackson. "The great thing about that degree is that it has a lot of transferable skills.”
She says sometimes it’s not the profession, but the industry. If you’re an accountant who doesn’t enjoy accountancy, for example, you may be able to apply your budgeting skills to a role in marketing.
People looking to return to the workforce after taking time off to raise a family can also benefit from self-auditing. “Industry is constantly changing and technology is changing. Be aware of what additional skills you could be building.”
Self-auditing also applies to people who are satisfied where they are. It just ensures you are up to date with the latest skills and technology.
“I think you should be re-tweaking your resume on an annual basis, and you should apply for a job at least once a year. It forces you to think about your skills,” Ms Jackson says.
“And, interviews can be daunting. The great thing about them is they force you to think about your key achievements. What are your key achievements and what are the things that haven’t gone so well this year? How did you handle them?”
Recognition is the first step to development.