The gap analysis, as a tool in our recruitment process.
You may well have been directed to this part of our web site to gain further understanding of why we have asked you to produce a gap analysis and/or some general guidelines as to what we and our clients are looking for within that gap analysis.
What the gap analysis is designed to achieve
For you, the applicant
We understand that people are complex capable individuals, and that any one person could equally be a business analyst, a project manager, a process expert, a package implementation specialist, an account manager or a consultant. You will no doubt have spent some time preparing your CV, and in doing so you may have considered how well it is likely to match up to all the various types of role for which you might apply; you may even have prepared different CV's to cover different roles.. At its simplest level the gap analysis we ask you to prepare is your opportunity to summarise relevant experience and achievements against each element of the job spec. This can also lead to more detailed discussion at interview. (It can certainly also help you prepare for interview, in that it will have encouraged you to think through your most relevant projects to the customer's situation.)
- It ensures that the applicant has both seriously considered and is seriously interested in their role; in order to produce an adequate gap analysis the applicant must have read through the various aspects of the role and considered them in some detail. Often job specs are created by ourselves in conjunction with our clients and comprise several days' iterative activity; great care is taken to include factors which are critical to the job or assignment being carried out successfully, as well as contextual and illustrative metrics. Nobody wants you to attend interview at (or worse join) a company and then say "I didn't realise..."
- It gives some indication as to how you structure a simple report/analysis and your ability to think and communicate in writing.
- It provides some general indication of suitability - of course. However people often assume that clients understand everything. The gap analysis is your opportunity to tell them why your experience is actually very relevant to their role. If a CIO is looking for an Enterprise Architect, they may not be aware that Weblogic is an SOA tool similar to BizTalk or Oracle Fusion, until they read your gap analysis. Similarly you can educate them as to how significant your achievements were; if you managed the implementation of billing systems for the formation of a start up Telco business from end of design to go live including testing in 21 weeks, you can include the comment that "anybody who knows the complexity of Telco billing processes will tell you that can't be done"!
It is probably worth mentioning that when clients are considering candidates through multiple sources, the presence of a relevant gap analysis will increase your chances of securing an interview exponentially. In today's market when a single advert produces hundreds of responses in one day and people can respond to roles with no more effort or commitment than a mouse click, clients need to be able to quickly sort the seriously committed contenders from the crowd.
How to prepare a gap analysis
We are not prescriptive about the format of the gap analysis, as we want our client to gain an insight into how you address simple analytical tasks.
We are looking for a document (Word or RTF please) of 1 or 2 pages which takes the explicit demands and dimensions of the role from the job spec (and some implicit ones also if you feel that these were implied in any other documentation we have provided) and highlights your relevant experience to each area. In its simplest form this could be a two column Word table with a summarised or copied "role ingredient" on the left and an "experience" commentary on the right. If you decide to mark up the job spec instead, please avoid simplistic phrases like "done that" etc. In essence we are looking for more than 'high' 'medium' or 'low' against each category but we don't want you to re-craft the entire CV. A simple response of one or two sentences to each point, perhaps referring to the project/client where you had some relevant experience (and ideally some metrics related to the point) is fine. Feel free to include some narrative which explains how close your experience was and/or how significant it was (e.g. "first project to come in on time and under budget for that user in 5 years")
Other guidelines as follows
- Please make sure you read, digest and mull over the job spec and any company profile we send and make a conscious decision to pursue the vacancy, before you commence producing a gap analysis. If the role requires relocation, please ensure that you have discussed this with any affected family members before submitting a gap analysis.
- Where you do not have relevant experience, it is better to include the point and say "no relevant experience" than ignore it. Within reason you can comment on how quickly you have learned new areas before, or how keen you are to work in that particular area, but be careful not to overdo this. At the end of the day the decision as to whether to interview you is not going to be based on the number of boxes you have ticked.
- Please do include subjective comments and views if you wish to, but if using humour be careful to re-read it and check that it works and doesn't detract from the overall document.
- If you spend more than 1 hour producing it, then it is probably too detailed. Take 20 - 30 minutes to produce a first draft and then look at it again later to tidy it up.
- It is valid to refer to your motivations/aspirations, as well as experience, but a gap analysis with 30% 'I want to do these aspects of the role but have no relevant experience' and 70% 'I have already done those aspects of the role' would not really be credible.
- Don't make the gap analysis too 'gadget-ish'; we've seen the lot, "dashboard style" red/amber/green flags, buttons etc. The written content is what is important.
- Bear in mind that the gap analysis does form part of the CV submission to our client, so it should appear well formatted with good grammar and spellchecked.
- If as a result of attempting to produce the gap analysis, you feel that you are not as close a match to the role as you originally thought, please do call us to discuss rather than abandon it; we are here to advise you as well as our clients.
- Once you have been successful in being offered and have started the role, don't expect the job spec to have defined all you might or might not achieve within that role. The gap analysis is a tool which helps our clients consider which candidates are likely to best perform in, and relish, a specific role, based on an understanding of its dimensions at a point in time. What you can make of that career opportunity will now be up to you.