How to Overcome Skills Gaps

Nancy Anderson
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Some job seekers feel that the existence of a "skills gap" is simply an effort to blame workers for a company's shortcomings. However, many human resources professionals who are in the trenches trying to fill open job listings insist that a skills gap is making it hard for companies to find candidates with the skills they need. Here are some tips to help if you find yourself on the wrong side of the skills gap.

Be Objective About Your Skills

An odd dichotomy exists when workers are asked about their qualifications for their current jobs. Based on a recent survey conducted by Udemy, a provider of job training courses, 95 percent of workers claim they are overqualified for their current jobs, and 54 percent say they don't know what they need to know to do their current jobs. Obviously, these numbers don't add up. Far too many workers are simply unaware of their own skills gaps, even though their inadequacies are keeping them from earning more money and gaining promotions. Don't fall into this trap. Instead, assess your own skills and lack of skills as objectively as possible. Look at the job description for your current position, and be brutally honest with yourself about how you measure up. Ask your boss if you are consistently meeting expectations, and ask to take on new challenges that can help you develop new skills.

Invest in Continuing Education

Even if you have impressive credentials and experience in one field, your background may be less than applicable to the field in which you currently work or aspire to work. Seek out continuing education opportunities to gain the skills you need to close the skills gap. Check out community colleges, evening programs at universities and corporate programs that allow ambitious workers to establish new networks and learn new skills. The conversation you have with your boss can help you determine the best type of training or courses to pursue.

Incorporate Experience From Outside the Job World

If you are new to the job world and seeking to establish yourself, take a look outside your official work experience to see where you have learned skills that transfer into the workplace. Examine your internships, education and volunteer work to show a potential employer that you have more valuable skills than your resume might show. Acknowledge that you have a skills gap to overcome, but demonstrate that you are eager to learn and work hard to get up to speed. Even if you are genuinely underqualified, an employer may respect your willingness to learn and open a door for you.

The first step in overcoming your personal skills gap is to acknowledge that it exists. If you are honest about this with current or potential employers and show a willingness to do the work needed to close that skills gap, you can begin some forward momentum in your career.


Photo courtesy of renjith krishnan at



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