Mind the Gaps –
Professional Skill Development During Times of Illness
Who Am I? What Do I know?
• 1980 BA in Soc-Anthropology/Clinical Psychology from
Western Illinois University (after 14 majors/minors)
• 1977-2001 Volunteered in various communities with low
income and unemployed individuals to help find employment
and develop job skills (Worked about 42 different jobs.)
• 2002 Pfizer downsized office and I began caring for family
with significant long & short term illnesses
• 2005 Graduated from SNL with MA while caring for family
• 2005-2008 Focused on skill development planning to help
friends and others with illnesses – got others jobs.
• 2008- Present Part-time Job Coach / Developer for UCP in
Understanding the Gaps
A Job is…. A Career is….
• Doing • Become
• Now • Over Time
• Performance based • Recognized Expertise
• Growing skills or learn • Teaching skills or elements
elements of work to others
• Titles may differ, work • Clear identity of skill field or
remains the same industry
• Jobs are added or lost • Careers change, but never
• Make sure the reality of your expertise lives up to
perceptions of those around you – if not, identify areas
for improvement and fix NOW, not later.
– Reality shows prove that many of us think we have
talents that make us stars or winners.
– Mirror, Mirror on the wall. Who is the best worker?
Syndrome -Performance reviews and co-worker
comments are not best places to see reality for career
– Remember : Jobs are the things we DO. Careers are
what we BECOME. Gaps can become the garden
bridge between them.
Personal Mission Statement
• Simple one sentence • Guides both personal
statement and professional life
• Easily understood by • Clearly defines passion
4th grader and life goal
• Able to memorize and • Simply is a life compass
repeat any time / – States boldly “This is
anywhere / under any what I am about.”
What is mind mapping?
• According to Wikipedia: A mind map is a diagram used
to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to
and arranged around a central key word or idea.
• Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and
classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization,
problem solving, decision making, and writing.
• A mind map is often created around a single word or
text, placed in the center, to which associated ideas,
words and concepts are added.
How to use a SWOT ANALYSIS
with a MIND MAP
A SWOT analysis is a popular project
management tool used in business
planning to determine a snapshot of
where a project or team is, what it
faces , and see gaps or connections
not yet made.
In working with planning gaps, this
method allows a quick, compact view
of situations or sudden detours that
might otherwise cause gaps in skill
I call it the opportunity maker, as you
can see problems and brainstorm
Job (s) Family
How to Map the Gaps
Drawing a mind map:
• Start in the center of a blank page and draw or write central
theme – This is the Career focus. The “Illness” is under career.
• Place sub-heading in each corner - These are areas of life
such as hobbies, education, family, etc.
• Connect sub-headings/areas of life with branches/ arrows to
central theme if a relationship to career or skill development
opportunity can be shown
• From areas of life corners, more than one sub-heading activity
can be placed.
• Consider all opportunities to learn or develop new skills and
add to map with dashed lines and consider using colors.
The basic Rules:
• Use colors, pictures, images, words, symbols, etc.
• Use one word or very simple phrases
• Use both straight and curved lines or arrows for branches
• Use circles, boxes, etc to capture key sub-headings and place
• Depth or focus on sub-headings should be placed on separate
Looking for Opportunity
Where & what can I teach?
In my illness, What can I learn to share with others?
During my recovery time, Can I add to my skills?
Charting the Gaps
• Look at the Big picture of how jobs and life fit
toward career goals
• Look for Opportunities that have been over
looked or never considered
• Skill knowledge or experience brushed off
because not gained on a “job” or at school
• Chart skills needed for career goal and best
choices of time / money use
Skill Gap Charting for Career
Burger King Fry
Fry Cook/PT Timing
Cook/PT AM Paper
Customer Service Route
What she loved What are her skills
• Teaching others • Natural gift for breaking
• Black /White ethical lines down ideas or concepts
• Details • Knack for editing and
• Finding errors proofing anything
• Working independently • Managing projects alone
• Creating data analysis • Maintaining ethical self
reports or spread sheets • Ability to compile data into
easy to understand formats
Illness verses the Map
What Illness gave What map gave
• Time to research field and • Clear goal path
study for auditing exam • Assessment of skills from all
• Met many new people and areas of her life
made network contacts • Refocus on life and career
• Opportunity to reinvent self • Learned what she is about –
and adjust career to illness Teaching and Resource
• Insights to personal limits • Targets without time limits
Minding the Gaps - Results
• Given the knowledge of illness ups and
downs, Lyn could see down times as skill
• Gaps in her resume no longer are illness or
job loss excuses, but have a planned purpose
• Planning for detours gave her options and
control/power illness thus increasing energy
Before the Map After the Map
• Paranoia and illness caused • Saw relationship of illness
performance to decline. to performance issues.
• Checked herself into an • Began to focus on career
outpatient therapy. skills and development.
• Illness and career co-existed
• Illness was main focus and and were recognized as
career/job was not on radar. equally important.
• Illness was elephant in the • Illness and career are
room, career wasn’t even IN treated like objects that
the room. move around in the same
In the workbook, more details and actual breakdowns of elements.
• Define your main goal as the center topic of your map.
• Next add your primary values to your map as free-floating topics.
• Add primary topics, one representing each of the major life roles or
domains in your life (i.e.: work, family, church, hobbies, etc.)
• Then add secondary topics, steps and strategies you will undertake to
achieve your goal within the context of each life role. (If your map
becomes too cluttered, consider creating sub-maps to expand details of
each life role.)
• You can assign numeral rankings to create action steps in your plans,
allowing it to be easier to know where to start or what is next.