In my last post on Career Management I promised you some tools/techniques to help you to ‘get to know yourself’. Here are 7 things that I offer as possible ways to do that:

Career Management techniques for getting to know yourself better

Of course these do not need to be considered as solely career management techniques, as Francoise Murat (@FrancoiseM) said in a tweet about the last post it can help you to re-calibrate your own thoughts.

1. No substitute for a pen, paper and some good questions

Ask yourself a series of questions similar to the points in the last post

  • What skills do you have? – operate equipment, use software, read finance data, write articles, draw….
  • What other abilities might those skills indicate? – if you can draw well, it may indicate an eye for detail, creativity etc
  • What is important to you? – may give an indication of your values
  • What comes easily to you? – we can tend to dismiss things that we find easy, but just because we find it easy others may not and it could be a specific ability or skill an employer is looking for.
  • What are the activities you enjoy and get ‘lost’ in? – may indicate natural abilities or things that really interest you and that are core skills
  • What are your prevailing characteristics? – optimistic/pessimistic, get stuck in/hold back, enthusiastic/reticent..
  • What experience have you got?

2. Dig into your accomplishments

Past accomplishments can be a rich source of abilities and skills that perhaps you have not noticed before. Accomplishments are a rich vein of information in your career management activity. For this one go back over career accomplishments and perhaps some personal achievements and
generate a list of short summaries based on the acronym OAR

  • What was the Opportunity (that can be a true opportunity, a need, or a problem)?
  • What did you do to Address it/what Action did you take?
  • What was the Result ?

Now look at these and identify what the key characteristics that you displayed and list them. These are likely to be strengths. I thought OAR might be memorable as an acronym, alright it’s not quite as grand as sailing your own ship but OARs do allow you to keep your boat going forward and in the right direction. The boat here being your career 😉

3. What motivates you?

Take time to consider what motivates you and really drives you, here are some that might apply

  • Being recognised for expertise or specialist knowledge
  • Being a leader
  • Being able to contribute to the greater good
  • Personal freedom
  • Financial or job security
  • Financial success/accumulation of wealth
  • Enhancing your image/reputation
  • New challenges

4. Career management goals

As part of your career management thinking and strategy, you need to think about where you want your career to be heading. Perhaps ask yourself some questions such as

  • “Where do you see yourself in 1, 3… years?”
  • or

  • Imagine it is 5 years in the future, saying to yourself “I wish I had…”, “I am glad I…”
  • or

  • Perhaps even more long term, what would you like to say about yourself or hear others say about you at your retirement party?
  • these may give some insight into what you do and do not want to be doing

5. Preferences

There are some short form versions of various social style, personality profiling and career orientation tools or instruments available via searches on Google. These will give you an insight into what your communication and behavioural preferences may be & what sort of career choices may best suit you. However, if you want a more indepth analysis and fuller explanation you should go to a qualified career management practitioner. Amongst the tools that I have experienced are the Myers-Briggs Type Instrument (MBTI), DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness) and the Personality Compass Type Instrument (PCTI). While maybe one of the lesser known, I found the PCTI output to be the most insightful. Another widely cited tool which is specifically focussed on career management is Edgar Schein’s Career Anchors assessment tool.

6. What do other think of you?

People you work with, work for, suppliers, customers, friends and family can all give you valuable insight into how other people see you and what your perceived strengths are. Ofcourse, you need to take into account that you may not get a fully rounded response as people may not wish to highlight weaknesses of areas that may upset you. An alternative approach may be to attempt to put yourself into the position of others and ask questions of yourself as to how you might be seen.

7. Personal SWOT

For those who may not have come across SWOT, it is a widely used strategy and analysis tool; where SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. In the case of a personal SWOT for career management purposes, you are using the tool to give you key insights, uncover possible opportunities and develop development plans that can address weaknesses and threats.
A SWOT is generally laid out as a 2 x 2 grid with the Strengths & Weaknesses on the top row and the Opportunities & Threats on the bottom row. See the image.

When completing the SWOT consider the following:

Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats
What qualifications have you got?
What key skills do you have?
What influential/important contacts do you have?
What experience do you have?
What have you achieved & what are you proud of?
What gaps do you have in your education?
What frustrates you?
What types of tasks do you avoid (dislike or lack confidence)?
What skills gaps might you have?
What might your network be able to help you with?
Do you see any gaps in your company or wider industry that you can address?
What technological developments might be able to assist you?
What positions may be coming up soon?
What is the potential for my skills and knowledge becoming obsolete?
What legislative or societal changes might impact your industry?
What threat is there to your job or industry from new technologies?
Who do I face competition from?


There we go then, I have presented you with seven potential tools and techniques that you can use as part of your career management strategy to get to know yourself better. These should give you an insight into you, what your strengths are in the career market, what potential development areas you may need to address and what options and opportunities you may have.<

In the next blog in this career management series, I will introduce some foundation work that will serve you well in preparing CVs, application forms and responses to interview questions.

career management - look at yourself in the mirror
Creative Commons License photo credit: >>>WonderMike<<<