In networking, job interviews, and in your career...self awareness is critical to success.
When people don’t really know their strengths and weaknesses, they often can’t answer questions well, sell themselves effectively, or emphasize their key qualities.
In order to help someone help you when job networking, you must know what you are looking for and be able to articulate it well. When you are interviewing for a position, you must be able to show with credibility what you know and what you do well, to be considered for the role.
Taking the time to really examine and discover your strengths, talents, and abilities will give you greater confidence and go a long way to helping you land your next position. Most people never do an honest self-appraisal and assume things about themselves that may, or may not, be true.
So, how do you do that effectively?
It should probably be done in a variety of ways...
Self Assessment – Take time to thoroughly review your career. Ask yourself introspective questions, and write out your honest answers.
What have been your wins, and what have been your set backs? What jobs have you liked the most? What tasks have you enjoyed the most? What gave you the most satisfaction? What came most easily to you? What jobs or tasks seemed most chore-like? What manager did you like to work for the most? Why? What manager got the most productivity out of you? Why? What was your greatest achievement? What caused that? What was your greatest set back? What caused that? If you were to do your career over, what would you change? What characteristics do you have the most confidence in? What characteristics have held you back?
Asking yourself these questions and more will force you to articulate the pluses and minuses of your career and your self-characteristics. Don’t assume you know what you think you know. Think through examples in your past that confirm those characteristics to you...or perhaps cause you to question them. The process may be very enlightening to you!
Reference Assessments – Find out what others really think of you. Often we don’t necessarily know how others see us and we might be surprised.
Compile a list of 4 or 5 questions to ask others you’ve worked with in the past. Questions of what they see as your strengths, weaknesses, biggest accomplishments and achievements. Send it out to 5 or 6 people that know you well enough in a work environment, and whom you have a good enough relationship that they will give you an honest answer.
Many times people are surprised to learn that previous colleagues think they have an exceptional skill or strength that they never thought they possessed. A task may come easily to you because you’ve done it so many times and you see anything special about it. Others may see it and marvel at how you do it so easily and so well while they struggle with it. Be sure to know those things about yourself...get the opinions of others.
Assessment Tests – Finally, take tests that can effectively determine some of your strengths and weaknesses as well. Getting an objective determination can add credibility to statements you make in your job interview.
One of the best, and most reasonably priced, resources I’ve seen for this in recent years is a book and test called: StrengthsFinder 2.0: A New and Upgraded Edition of the Online Test from Gallup's Now, Discover Your Strengths
It’s proven to be incredibly accurate, and very insightful. It will most certainly help you understand yourself and your motivations better. It will help you figure out many of the “why’s” in your behaviors, your accomplishments, and your achievements. Take the test and fill in some of the gaps in your knowledge about yourself.
Examining yourself in these three different ways will give you a much better understanding of what to emphasize in your conversations with others, and what to minimize.
Take the time to know yourself better. It will pay dividends in many surprising ways!