B is for… Budgeting

atozofskillsWe normally think of Budgeting in the context of our own personal finances. However, this is an important skill in the workplace as well. Why? because all businesses have a budget.


noun: An estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.

verb: Allow or provide for in a budget.

We are more concerned with the verb however, in order to do this, you first need to understand what a Budget is and why it is important to your employer (and why it is important to you). If you are a business owner or in management ‘a budget’ should be a familiar routine and you may already be directly responsible for preparing a budget. However, understanding a budget and how it affects you is important for everyone.

Why is a Budget important?

  • it helps you plan to reach goals and targets (both corporate and personal).
  • it helps manage your cashflow by monitoring your expenses and income.
  • it helps you plan your finances in advance.
  • it helps you prioritise spending.
  • if you charge by the hour it helps you assess your fees.
  • it will help identify wasteful expenditure.
  • it helps allocate funds to specific projects.
  • it helps outline the needs of the business and its departments.
  • it helps plan ahead for future growth.
  • it helps assess funds for investment e.g. in training, in technology, in new staff, in equipment etc.

Action Point: Consider why these are important to you in your current role and how they affect your job. If you are going for a promotion consider why they are important in that role as well.

Whatever your role you need to be able to budget and understand your corporate budget. While you might not use ‘budgeting skills’ practically in your day-to-day job an understanding of where you fit in the circle of life, your ability to incorporate the corporate budget into your business development plan, your ability to be mindful of budgets when working on projects or charging for work (or doing work if you do ¬†fixed fee work) is all part of succeeding at your job.

How can you show you have this skill?

Unless you are in a finance team, accounts or a manager it is unlikely to be a specific requirement of your job.

For the rest of you your ability to budget can be demonstrated while to are giving examples of your other skills such as time-management (ability to complete things on time and on budget), problem-solving, efficiency and improving working processes.

Skill Development Plan: Budgeting

Do you have any responsibility for finances? Think about how you can incorporate some numbers into your routine – whether this is managing your own billing/invoices, preparing a budget for your team, helping to manage your clients finances or offering to assist someone else so you can learn more about the budgeting process.

Action Point: Add TWO specific actions to your career development plan that you can undertake in the next 12 months to boost your knowledge of budgeting and financial management.

If you are struggling to find something to do to help boost this skill Рmake it personal write your own budget for your personal finances. Make budgeting less scary by learning the terminology.

Action Point: Create a personal Budget

A is for… Adaptablity


In the current climate it is more important than ever to show that you are adaptable.

Adaptability: capable of adapting or being adapted.

Employers want applicants to show that they can:

  • adapt to changing circumstances
  • take on board new ideas and concepts
  • adapt and develop a role and do what is required
  • rise to the challenge of dealing with the unfamiliar

Some people are naturally adaptable and thrive in situations which are unexpected and new. However, for a lot of us this is not the case.

For example, I am a “planner” I work to a to-do list and detest interruptions. However, I am adaptable because I have learned how to manage these changes and interruptions in a positive way. The key ability here is to be able to make the changes work for you and fit them into your way of working.

How can you show you have this skill?

Unfortunately you cannot simply say something like “I am flexible in the way I work and I adapt well to change in circumstances”.

You need to be able to give and example (or several). The obvious examples are working abroad, working in multiple locations, on secondment or working from home. These are big obvious examples where no explanation is necessary as to why this shows that you are adaptable. But you can also use smaller “change” situations, like the upgrading of computer software if answered correctly.

BUT Make it a good story.

If you are asked to specifically show that you are adaptable and can’t use an obvious answer you should tell a good story by remembering to talk about the following:

1. Paint the Picture: describe the situation and context

2. Identify what the problem or aim is.

3. Describe what you did in this situation.

4. Explain the outcome / result and draw attention to what you achieved.

Action Point: write a few examples to keep in your career journal.

Consider what are you aiming to show when answering this question and telling this story. These questions can be a way to show that you can:

  • make change work for you – handle it and utilise it
  • adapt to change and new ways of working quickly and easily
  • make suggestions for increasing the effectiveness of change
  • learn new methods, techniques
  • shift your priorities to deal with the demands of an unexpected situation
  • bounce back from setbacks and maintain a positive attitude

Skill Development Plan: adaptability

Experience is really your only teacher with this skill, you cannot artificially practice it or force it.

Instead your focus should be on identifying situations in your work history (or current job) where you have been adaptable and keep a note of these in your career journal.

You should also take the opportunity to consider how you could handle such situations better and assess what complimentary skills you might need to work on. Examples of such skills include: Time Management, prioritisation, problem solving and taking the initiative.

introverted? Work hard on public speaking

An important part of your career development is identifying your weaknesses or other areas for improvement and developing them.

It is no secret that I am an introverted person. I struggle at presentations, public speaking, making myself heard at meetings and commanding authority. Once I start to speak people will listen and usually take what I say under advisement, but it is the getting started (the initial speaking out) that gives me trouble. My natural approach is to wait until asked. In a professional or corporate world this does not work (at least not all the time).

My boss at my previous company was fantastic about this and always made a point to ask if there was anything I wanted to add, or would let me start the talking straight off and lead the meeting. However, not everyone is like that (particularly in a competitive environment).

Skill Development

This year (like most years) one of my goals has been to work on my public speaking (and I am sure this is the same for a lot of people for a variety of reasons).

Skill Development is a vital part of career development whether you want to fill in the gaps in your C.V. overcome your weaknesses or prove you are the right person for a promotion you should be serious about developing your skills to help you on your way to your overriding objectives.

Action Plan

It is not enough to say “I want to be better at public speaking” you need to have achievable goals and an action plan to get you there so you can show that you have improved your public speaking preferably by doing actions that can themselves be added to your C.V.

1. Start by picking a soft skill that you want to develop – here I have used the example of public speaking and presentations.

2. Then set a number of goals. I usually have 3 goals per skill.

3. Then write a list of ACTIONS that you can do to achieve those goals.

This is a simple set up and is similar to how I manage review and track my regular goals. The key difference is identifying goals that are all about the soft skills development. Don’t forget they do not have to be work related things. You can build up your soft skills outside of work as well.

Flash Freebie: Skill Development Action Plan (includes an example of one of my Plans for Public Speaking and Presentations).

DIY ACTION POINT: Write your Action Plan for one skill that you want to develop.

Date for your Diary: Don’t forget to schedule a review in 6 months. You can use our Skills Development Progress Tracker for your review.