Michael Sterling

Do You Have What It Takes? A Career Gap Analysis for Accountants

So you have a career goal, but do you have the skills to get you where you want to go? Setting a career goal without knowing what skills you need is like setting off on a road trip without knowing how much gas is in the tank. It won’t be long before you come to a complete stop.


Whether you’re a Tax Senior with your sites set on becoming a Tax Manager or a Senior Audit Manager with a goal to become a Partner, it’s what you don’t know that will hurt you.


How do you know what you don’t know? That’s where a Career Skills Gap Analysis comes into play. A gap analysis allows you to identify the differences in the skills you have today and the skills needed for your next career step.


The Four-Step Analysis:


  1. Define the Skills Necessary for your Targeted Position. Talk to professionals in those positions. Learn the skills they use daily and, if possible, map the career path they took to get them where they are now.I also recommend reading job descriptions. What does your desired position require? Create a list of the education, experience and skills needed for that position.
  1. Personal Assessment. With the job requirements in hand, measure them against the experience you currently have. Look for areas where you need to focus on development and make note of the gaps in your skills, education and experience.
  1. Seek Guidance. Review your current skills and the areas you’ve identified for professional growth with a mentor. Confidentiality and trust are key in this relationship. Ask them for their honest feedback on your technical and soft skills. (see Six Soft Skills Every Public Accountant Needs) and for guidance on reaching your next career step.This is also where a professional career coach/recruiter is an invaluable partner and guide. As a coach and recruiter who works exclusively with public accountants, I find many professionals don’t have a mentor or their mentor is someone within their firm and there’s concern in sharing a career goal which could require moving to another firm.A professional career coach who knows the public accounting field is able to give keen insight on taking the next step up the success ladder. The added benefit of a coach/recruiter is the fact the recruiter can watch for opportunities and find an ideal match for your specific goals.
  1. Create a Plan. Armed with your gap analysis, you’ll be able to craft your development plan. For each item on your list, identify an action step(s) and a due date. For example, if you need to earn your CPA or your MST define the steps you’ll take to achieve that and a completion date. If you need stronger soft skills, like leadership or communication, list how you will hone those. You might request taking the lead on a team engagement or identify volunteer opportunities, workshops, webinars and other actionable items for your plan.

The great news is “there’s more than one way to peel an orange.” There’ll be multiple ways to acquire the skills you need to bridge the gaps. Find what works best for you.


Interested in more insights on career development? Check out the Career Wellness library on the SterlingFreeman website.


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