01 06

Resume gap analysis

Our journey from Seattle to Ho Chi Minh City took all of 24 hours. We live in a pretty damn amazing world, don’t we? I watched three Best Picture nominees, ate a couple in-flight meals, jogged across Seoul Incheon Airport to make our tight connection, and woke up as we landed in Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s largest metro area and the country’s commercial and financial capital. Until 1976, it was known as Saigon, a name that’s still used colloquially in reference to the central districts of the city. Saigon isn’t at the top of every traveler’s must-see list for Southeast Asia, but it did happen to have the cheapest round-trip flights when we booked our travel a few months ago. Knowing we’d be spending the spring working our way all around the region, it wasn’t important to us where we started. Vietnam it was!

Devouring Street Food and Dodging Motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City - The Resume Gap

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One of my best friends – we’ll call him Dylan – also happens to be one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. You’d recognize it in an instant if you met him. He’s intellectually curious, up-to-date on seemingly every current event, bitingly clever, and one of the funniest people I know.

Dylan and I met as coworkers at my first full-time job. He’s exactly the kind of person you’d want on your team. Not only is he one of the hardest workers, but his analytical skills are off-the-charts. Lob out any idea or question – whether it’s “Why doesn’t this restaurant take reservations?” or “What will happen if the individual health insurance mandate isn’t enforced?” – and he’ll probably have a page-long list of hypotheses and well thought-out analysis ready to discuss in minutes.

Somehow, the guy is even more qualified on paper. Dylan has five degrees, all of them from the kind of world-renowned academic institutions that would make even the most demanding helicopter parent proud. He’s worked for the most competitive employers. And did I mention that he’s personable and good-looking to boot?

Dylan is the kind of person who should have all the leverage in the world in finding the ideal job, right? I can’t think of an organization that wouldn’t get tremendous value out of hiring him.

Indeed, he currently works for the most highly-regarded company in his field. I would guess he’s earning at least 0k per year, plus a big annual bonus.

Yet when I asked Dylan how work was going in a recent conversation, I was disappointed by the answer.

“It’s kind of a grind,” he told me.

Big Salary, Miserable Life - The Resume Gap

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It’s not very often that I get so excited about a publicly-traded company that I start recommending it to all my friends, family, and readers, but I just couldn’t keep this latest portfolio addition to myself.

My latest buy is Vitiai. Many people haven’t even heard of it, but it’s been a really strong performer over the past few years, and I’m optimistic that it has many years (decades, even!) of growth ahead of it.

Stock Tip of the Month: Vitiai Corp. - The Resume Gap

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This is the fourth installment in our series in which we share our cost of living as we experiment with different FIRE adventures and travel to destinations around the world. Previously, we’ve shared our experiences with #vanlife (parts one and two) and backpacking in Eastern Europe.

We had a blast traveling Mexico for practically the entire month of February, visiting Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, and Mazatlán before our brief return to the dreary Pacific Northwest winter. Here’s the financial breakdown of our trip.

How Much Does a Month in Mexico Cost?

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One of my favorite things about blogging is the connections we’ve made with our readers – whether in person as we travel (over a dozen meet-ups last year!) or over the internet.

This e-mail from a reader caught my attention last week:

Matt,

I hope you and Daniel are doing well and enjoying semi-retirement! I’m hoping you could share some advice that you’d give to your 23 year old self.

I got my bachelors last year in Marketing and have worked for a cool, highly successful company in a southern U.S. city since, salary about k pretax. But here’s the thing, Matt, you’ve ruined me.

Since I discovered semi-retirement was possible at a young age, I’ve become obsessed with the concept. I’m a rock climber, mountain biker, etc., so the thought of being able to pursue those hobbies full time while my body is at peak health is incredibly enticing.

I’m not sick of working, as a concept, though I am so sick of marketing. I am more like you than the rest of the FI community in that I have no problem working again someday; in fact I know I want to. If I could find a way to semi-retire for a few years, I could use that time to pursue my age-restricted hobbies and develop skills for re-entering the workforce.

So, what would you tell yourself at 23 to make early retirement planning less painful, more productive/efficient, or what have you? And any advice for my specific situation?

Buster

My response quickly turned into a multi-page letter, and I decided to post it here.

Here are five pieces of financial advice I’d share with myself at age 23.

Advice to My 23-Year-Old Self - The Resume Gap

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By analyzing these gaps, management can create specific action plans to move the organization forward toward its goals and close the gaps identified in the gap analysis report. However, a gap analysis does not provide the action plan, it only provides the foundation of understanding necessary to create it.

1. Construct organizational goals. Effective goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely, according to Top Achievement. Before beginning gap analysis, all goals must be clear and quantifiable so that the gap can be measured.

However, the goal might be as specific as producing one part per minute in a particular factory production cell. Goals with narrower scope are easier to understand and measure.

2. Benchmark your current state. Use historical data if possible as it will span a longer period and require less effort to compile. For example, if the goal is to reduce freight costs to 1.5 percent of parts sales, hopefully the company's accounting records contain months' worth of freight cost and parts sales data.

For instance, if the goal involves sales revenue, data collection is as simple as tallying sales for the current period. Collecting data on a less concrete metric like customer satisfaction would require you to create surveys for customer feedback.

3. Analyze the gap data. The challenging question is not how far actual performance fell below target, but why the gap exists. Brainstorm possible causes of performance and then narrow them down using tools like "fishbone diagrams" or "five-why" analyses.

Tip

  • Gap analysis is often an iterative process. If you discover partway through the analysis that your goals are unrealistic or irrelevant, go back to the beginning of that category and rewrite the goal to make it more meaningful or actionable.

Warning

  • Don't rush ahead to presenting solutions to address gaps. That is the function of the improvement plan. Take the time to fully understand and validate the performance gaps -- as well as the reasons behind them -- before deciding on a solution.

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