“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” Mark Twain
Once you have your mind right and you're ready to move on to the nuts and bolts of job search strategy, let’s get started with outlining your strengths and weaknesses. Tackling this smaller task will help you evaluate your career path by unearthing where your skills and interests intersect, and where you can provide tremendous value. Before anything else, let's ditch any negative connotations around the word weakness. Strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin. For instance, maybe you think you don't have enough time to commit to the job search. If you look at things from a different perspective and reframe the situation in a positive light, time limitations can force us to choose what tasks are the most essential and will have the most impact. Just like that, you can move from letting a busy schedule bring you anxiety to becoming more effective in harnessing and maximizing what limited time you have.
Writing out what you like to do, what you're good at, what you don't like to do, and what you're not good at can be a great start. Think about what motivates you. Some people are excited enough just at the idea of getting back to work it doesn't matter what the job is. Most people need more motivation than that though; they need to care about the work that they are doing. Think about work that you've done in the past. Reflect on all your experiences - not solely those from your past career. Consider any freelance, interim, contract, volunteer and unpaid work you've done. What are the reoccurring themes in your life and work experience? What have you gotten bored of quickly? Dig into what drives you. Examine different groups of people or industries you identify with and understand. What can you bring to a work environment that sets you apart?
Before getting out your notepad and starting to jot things down, think about when you are the most energized in your day. If you feel the most awake and alert in the morning, carve out some time in your morning schedule to sit down and write this out. Allow yourself a few days or a week to complete the process so you can come back to your responses with fresh eyes before marking the task as complete.
There are many free or low-cost online assessments you can use to kick off or round out the exploration process. Please feel free to send me a message if you would like a more extensive list of assessments or if you need help deciphering the results:
- The VIA Survey is a "free, scientific survey on character strengths."
- The Jung Typology Test™ is a "free personality test based on Carl Jung’s and Isabel Briggs Myers’ personality type theory."
- The free MAPP sample Assessment is a Motivational Appraisal of Personal Potential.
- The classic SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). Identify your strengths (skills or traits that set you apart from others) and weaknesses (areas for growth and improvement). Think about how you can reframe your weaknesses as opportunities before moving on to the next two categories. Then, list out opportunities (external factors you can take advantage of such as the economy, learning opportunities, industry trajectory, new technology, etc.), and threats (external factors that could become obstacles such as competition). Then, think about how threats can also become opportunities and add them to your list.
- The Three by Three. Ask a close friend or colleague to list your top three strengths and top three areas for improvement.
Job hunting can be a fulltime job. Recognizing and fostering your strengths can help you save time and get better results. Knowing more about yourself and your personality can help you manage the job search process in a more meaningful way.
What makes you come alive? Share in the comments!