Thursday, August 25, 2016

Look In The Mirror. What Do You See?

by Kendell Brown, Associate Director of Alumni Career Services
Kelley Graduate Career Services

Kendell Brown
Often alums and clients contact me wanting to initiate a job search but they’re at a loss as to where to start. All that they know is that they want to start now! So to jumpstart their thinking, I’ll have them assess where they are today. Self-evaluation is a great way to inventory who you are, what you have to offer and where you want to go. Here are the six areas I encourage someone to consider and the order to consider them. 

Strengths – What do you do well? 
I encourage people to start here.  It’s typically an easy assessment to make. If you’re stuck or too modest to reflect on your strengths look at old performance reviews. Or think about what you like to do best and/or what comes easiest to you. 

Transferrable skills – What will you leverage?
This is a natural next step from strengths. Transferrable skills are those skills that you have that can be applied across a variety of positions. Meaning if you’ve got a strong drive for results in your current role – you’ll have a strong drive for results in your next one. Typically, there’s a high degree of overlap between transferrable skills and strengths. Although, you should be aware that it’s not necessary for a transferrable skill to be a strength.


Industries/Functions/Roles – What positions appeal to you?
At the start of a job search, there’s an immense number of opportunities to pursue. Now that you’ve thought through what you do well and what can be applied elsewhere, you need to start thinking about what specifically you want to do.  Gaining clarity at this point will stop you from feeling overwhelmed by choices. This focus will eventually lead to a manageable set of jobs to pursue. 

Challenges – What hinders your progress?
Now’s the time to get real with yourself. Take a look at your work history, successes and failures.  What is going to give a recruiter reason to toss your application? Were all of your successes from a long time ago?  Have you job hopped, a lot? Are you making such a significant change that it makes people scratch their heads? Whatever your challenge is (you’re kidding yourself, if you don’t think you have any) – recognize it and develop a plan to overcome (or at least minimize) it.

Criteria – What are you imperatives?
These are your must haves. What must an offer include for you to say “yes”? Imperatives are individualized and don’t need to make sense to anyone but you. Maybe you’ve lived your whole life in Chicago and all of you friends and family are in Chicago, so it’s imperative that you get a job in Chicago. Or alternatively, the same is true and you’ll work anywhere but Chicago. Doesn’t matter – if it’s a “take it or leave it” decision point, it should be on your list of criteria.

Goals – What do you want?
The final step in kicking off your search. Of course, your number one goal is – the role you want.  However, goals should also keep you honest. So what else is important in your search? Timing - do you want a new job by next Spring?  Responsibilities- do you want to start managing a team? Career development – is this next role setting you up to achieve your long term career plans? 

Yes, there’s a lot more reflection that you’ll do throughout your search. There’s a good chance that you’ll update and revise you’re your answers to the six categories. In the meantime, this self-review will allow you to begin. Good luck!

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