Most of the time, when you hear someone use the phrase ‘self-awareness’, it’s in connection with personal growth, and about how understanding yourself can help you improve. That’s true; but have you ever thought about how self-awareness can be a valuable job search tool as well? Think about it: there are lots of different jobs out there, but not all of them are going to be the right fit for you. Where do you start, and what is the best way to utilize your valuable job-seeking time and energy to ensure the best results? Understanding yourself, your skills, your work preferences, and your expectations is an important part of putting that puzzle together. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help increase self-awareness in your job search and improve long-term results:
What Do I Bring to the Table?
Understanding the skills and experience you have to offer sets the tone for a productive job search in a number of ways. In addition to giving you a good idea of where to start your search and what kinds of jobs you are most likely to secure, having this information will help you better ‘sell’ yourself to potential employers on your resume and in interviews. Employers know that there is a big difference between saying you have certain skills and being able to put them into action, so when you can speak confidently and intelligently about your specific skills and abilities, it helps you stand out, and helps employers understand the valuable contributions you could make as part of the team.
Where Will I Thrive?
The goal is not just to get hired; even more importantly, it is also to be successful wherever you go. So, it is imperative to think about the types of jobs and work environments that you are best suited for. Do you love customer service, but cringe at the thought of working in a call center environment again? Do you prefer working independently, or do you need the energy of a team environment to help you stay motivated throughout your workday? Often, knowing what you don’t want or what doesn’t work for you is just as important as knowing what does. Why? Because it helps you avoid unsatisfying jobs, prevent excessive job-hopping, and increases the likelihood that you will land somewhere you will thrive!
How Do I Come Across to Other People?
While it’s not productive to obsess over what other people think of you, it is important to be mindful of how you might come across to others in professional situations such as job interviews or networking events. This will help you modify your approach so you can keep things appropriate for the environment. For instance, if you are going to a networking event and you know that you are naturally a very close talker, keep in mind that physical boundaries vary from person to person, and standing too close to someone may make them feel uncomfortable. You can still be your authentic self – just recognize that some situations may require tempering certain tendencies back a little bit. Body language, word choice, personal presentation, and hygiene are some important factors to keep in mind when reflecting on how others may perceive you.
What Are My Expectations, and Are They Realistic?
What are your expectations about job duties, schedules, and requirements? Are they realistic based on what you bring to the table and what is available in your location? Recognize that you may need to manage your expectations if there is a discrepancy between what you’re looking for, the experience and skills you can offer, and what is available within a reasonable travel distance. Otherwise, you may have a hard time securing employment. Distinguishing your must-haves from the nice-to-haves is a good place to start, as it will help you identify areas that you could potentially be more flexible in. For instance, if making more per hour is your number one non-negotiable, but a short commute doesn’t rank highly on your job search criteria, then it makes sense to extend your search radius (within reason) if local employers don’t offer what you’re looking for. Most jobs probably won’t check off ALL the items on your wish list – so you must prioritize your needs and compromise accordingly.