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Step 3: Closing the Gap

Career Toolbox

Closing the gap between the experiences and competencies needed to achieve your personal career goals and your current level of skills and experiences is the third step in the TSA Career Planning Process. In this section you will find tips on writing clear career goals and identifying specific developmental activities that will help you achieve your career goals. The optional Goal Setting Worksheet (doc, 75Kb) will help you prioritize your goals and objectives. Next you can decide which goals may be appropriate to include on your TSA Career Plan Form (doc, 165Kb) that you will discuss with your supervisor.

Career Goals

There are many ways to define career goals. In TSA's Career Planning Process, career goals are defined as your desired position or occupational outcome. For some employees their "desired position or occupational outcome" will be their current position. If this is true for you, concentrate on the competencies required in your current position and the developmental activities that will help you to continue to grow and feel energized.

Short and Long Term Goals

Career goals that you hope to achieve in two years or less are considered short-term goals. Goals that you estimate will take longer than two years are defined as long-term goals. If you have identified a career change or other career goal that will take longer than two years to achieve, you may want to break that goal down into smaller goals before deciding on the competencies you wish to develop this year. Be creative about identifying developmental activities to help you acquire those competencies.

Some Examples:

  • Long-Term Goal:
    Complete the remaining requirements for an undergraduate degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management by December 2010.


  • Short-Term Goal:
    Complete five college courses in Human Resource Management by December 2007 while working full time as a TSA Screener.


  • Long-Term Goal:
    Start my own business when I retire from TSA in 2011.


  • Short-Term Goal:
    Become proficient in using spreadsheets during 2006.

Desired Outcomes

In TSA's Career Planning Process, desired outcomes are more specific than career goals. They are helpful in describing the skills/competencies and knowledge that you need to acquire to meet your goal. If your goal is to become proficient in using spreadsheets during 2006, one of your desired outcomes might be to be able to use Microsoft Excel to track expenditures on all of your projects by September 2006.

It will be easier to decide on developmental activities if your desired outcomes are stated clearly. Try to make them specific, measurable, achievable and time bound.

Developmental Activities

In TSA's Career Planning Process, developmental activities are defined as specific learning activities that will help you meet each of your developmental objectives. In the example above in which the developmental objective was to become proficient in Excel, some developmental activities could be:

  • Asking a colleague who is proficient in Excel to be a tutor on some of the advanced aspects of the software;
  • Enrolling in an advanced Excel course through the TSA Online Learning Center; or
  • Reading a book on Excel and applying the concepts to a project.

Additional Assistance with Closing the Gap

If you are having difficulty coming up with competencies to strengthen, desired outcomes, and developmental activities, you may need to break your goals down into smaller goals where progress is easier to achieve and measure.

  • Talking with a TSA Career Coach, your supervisor or a mentor may help you define your career goals and identify developmental activities that you can realistically accomplish this year.
  • Interviewing someone in your target occupation could help you to better understand specific competencies that you need to acquire.
  • A Competency Catalog with developmental suggestions is available in the TSA Career Toolbox. This resource provides lists of Online Learning Center Courses, books and on-the-job activities that you may want to pursue.
  • The Career Path Information contains excellent suggestions on appropriate developmental activities for the competencies that are currently listed.

Move on to Step 4: Drafting Your TSA Career Plan or return to TSA Career Planning Guide Table of Contents.

Latest revision: 29 November 2012