Updated: Sep 20
You know yourself better than anyone right?
“Step by Step “— Missing Link Course
A recent article in HBR titled “4 Pieces of Career Advice It’s Okay to Ignore” really triggered some thoughts from my career coaching experience, primarily about what that means to younger generations that are trying to enter the job market or those that lost their jobs this year.
In summary, the four pieces of career advice he suggests ignoring in the article are as follows:
“Just be yourself.”
“Let your achievements speak for themselves.”
“Focus on your strengths.”
“Follow your passion.”
And for the most part, the sentiments in the article and what they suggest doing instead are absolutely on the nose, and it really struck me that the main thing missing for many people is self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and owning the choices we make. Expanding on the article a little I wanted to share some tools that might help.
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1. Be your BEST self
Perception is reality and while there is a need to focus on social etiquette and public perception of the way we act, we don’t want to be disingenuous. The article uses the following quote:
“Act how you want others to see you — even if it is not 100% genuine.” — Sociologist Erving Goffman
However, it is also crucial to understand that hiring managers can often spot when someone is faking it during an interview, i.e. if they are giving the interviewer an answer they think that they want to hear.
If you are not able to be genuine or authentic then this may in fact be a great indicator that this may not be the right role or company for you. If it is a wrong fit then you will not perform to the best of your ability if you get the job anyway so it is not worth faking it.
Being self-aware means finding alignment between acting your best and most authentic self, adhering to societal rules, but seeking a role that fits your values, ethics, and genuine self. If you score high on ethics on a self-assessment then likely you don’t want to work for a company that exploits child labor or the natural ecosystems of the planet!
There are many tools you can use to determine what aligns with you, and I include one immediately at the end of this article.
Ensure you align your values and strengths to your job-seeking efforts.
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2. Control your personal BRAND
This is a great topic this year as it has become even more pertinent as we move to virtual leadership, especially analyzing how your brand is received through online tools, such as LinkedIn or Twitter.
“Your brand is a bigger driver of your career success than your actual work.” — Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
We may not like this but it is true of all products — us included. My marketing friends states, 10% of the product success is performance, 30% is predicated on brand, and a whopping 60% is in the marketing. Well according to those calculations your personal brand and positioning is 90% of your success! So ask yourself:
How well do you present yourself? Who you really are?
Are you confident enough to describe and share your accomplishments?
Do you share your value proposition and strengths?
Do you even KNOW your value proposition?
Developing relationships and strengthening networks has always been a key to career success, it can be done online as well as offline, so pay attention to where you can humbly share your value proposition.
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3. IDENTIFY your weaknesses
Yes play to your strengths but also try to improve incrementally on the “weaknesses” too. It would be so easy to rest on our laurels but part of self-awareness is recognizing our weaknesses and mitigating them.
For example, if you don’t love to speak in public then maybe that will never be a strength but speaking up in a meeting is crucial if you want to be seen and heard by management. Therefore you must find ways to build habits and adjust your mindset to increase your confidence in speaking up. Comfort in speaking up will be important to your career.
Anxiety is often considered a weakness but actually, a little discomfort and anxiety mean you are operating outside of your comfort zone and that is a good thing. Anxiety can push us past our limits to learn new skills.
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4. Learn and GROW
I wrote this year about how “finding purpose” is overrated, and this article also addresses this topic. Personally, I believe in energy and motivation, i.e. if we find the things that give us energy and motivate us then that’s the key to happiness and success.
Read my article on To work or not to work…is that a question?
You can design your role and do what gives you energy in almost any industry IF it is the right company that aligns with your values.
I have a friend who conducted over 100 interviews even if though he wasn’t interested in all of the jobs per se, he was just interviewing to practice his interviewing skills. In the end, he took a role in an industry that he never expected to find himself in because he liked the team that interviewed him so much and in the end, it was about the people.
Be flexible, you never know where you might end up and what you might learn! Being self-aware and allowing your knowledge of self to help you make the best possible choices is key.
It is an overused term “self-awareness” — but self-awareness is the key to career success. People struggle with this, not realizing it is an ongoing process and never-ending.
It is hard work. We all struggle with criticism and improving our skills, but there are always tools that can help if you are willing to put in the work.
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There are many psychometric tools out there, but here is one I offer my community based on the Five-Factor Model: Professional Preferences
Please note the following for instructions and full transparency:
I use this assessment for my paid course members so it will ask for your email at the end. Access is open for December only, so people can see the kind of tools they can use to identify an ideal work environment; I will send only one follow-up email to verify inclusion on my contact list for free content in the future.
Please wait a minute before clicking “see results” so that the system has time to update results on the page from my partner company and then click on the “print” button so you can save your overview of results as a pdf. (A full 12-page report of the results is only available in my paid Missing Link course.)