Self awareness means understanding oneself, being aware of your own capabilities and limitations and knowing what you truly enjoy and hope to get out of life. Without self understanding, how can you possible enable others to understand you, and even want to employ you?
One of the first self awareness documents that you write is curriculum vitae (CV.) which is a general purpose document used for ’selling’ oneself to a prospective employer, so in effect a self marketing document. It is important to get this right, for it not only discloses your career objectives, but it offers an understanding to a potential employer of what you are looking for within their organisation and the benefits of employing you. A good CV. should outline skills, knowledge and experience as well as qualifications achieved. Experiences in outside activities, such as a Duke of Edinburgh award, captainship of a team are also useful indicators as to your potential, especially if they are looking for a team player or leadership skills.
But a good CV is not enough, with many applicants for each position, there is often a rigorous screening process to be undertaken and if the letter of application is not enticing, then the CV. may well have been a waste of time. It is, therefore, important that both the letter and CV are full of action words, highlighting what I actually have done and am doing now. There is no room to be shy, all achievements must be
Highlighted and absolutely nothing negative stated, but above all interesting enough for the reader to want to meet me for an interview.
It, therefore pays to do this as well as possible and to be as self aware as possible. To start with I will undertake a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of myself. My strengths will include all my qualities as well as the activities that I am good at. I will then make a list of my weaknesses. Opportunities would then be listed and will include opportunities for my own self development professionally in the future, as well as opportunities within the industry sector and market place I am interested in. The list of threats would include changes to my circumstances and matters out of my control as well as potential threats within the industry I wish to enter. This will certainly help with my self awareness exercise but will; hopefully make things clearer for me.
Above is a diagram showing my intended approach to my self analysis which should help, not only with my career choice, but my career development as well. If I try and marry my key strengths with my key opportunities then that should show me exactly where I need to go and how I should get there. Likewise, if I can try and marry the weaknesses with my opportunities, I should always be able to make the best of a less than perfect situation, should this arise. I will always need to be aware of potential threats both to me personally and my industry choice specifically, but by building on my strengths I would hope to overcome threats. I will need to be aware that my weaknesses could let me down in a threatening situation and I must try and be in control of that.
Of course, I am not alone. I have friends and family, by asking them their opinions I can learn a lot more about myself and the area in which I want to work. I have consulted with friends and family on numerous occasions during this course and it has been a comfort to me at times. There is an old saying, ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ and I understand, from working friends, if often the key to success. Employers, it seems, like to promote people they know, or recruit someone who is known by them or by someone in connection with them. It is not a situation where people have careers for life any more; in fact it is not unusual to move every couple of years, especially early into a career when trying to climb the corporate ladder. I have to make sure that I am aware not only of my capabilities, but make sure that others know too, it is called networking.
It seems a strange thing to say, but until I undertook this course, I did not really understand my true capabilities, or what I was really about. I have learnt a lot about business and useful techniques for the future. Of course I was already involved in a number of activities outside of my school and I had my favourite subjects, as well as those I disliked, so in effect, I suppose that I was already starting to become self aware. But nothing really prepares you for university, or the mental or social challenges ahead. I have thrown myself into everything and tried to do as much as possible on as little sleep as possible! But then, that’s what student life is about, isn’t it? I have met students from different cultures and backgrounds and have really enjoyed learning about them, as much as my coursework. In becoming aware of others, and by becoming more knowledgeable about the world of work, I have learnt more about myself than I could have learnt possible. I have reaffirmed what I like and, explored new interests and truly believe that there are many avenues open to me in the world of work.
I found that, whilst I am focused on where I want to be in the future, I was incredibly nervous at the advisory interview. I am not normally a nervous person, but the atmosphere seemed so real and I don’t have many experiences of interviews. Having undertaken a self analysis, I realise that I thought I could get away with the interview with little preparation, but it was obvious that I was not as prepared as I could have been. There were a few questions I had not expected and I found these difficult to ask. I will need to spend more time preparing for the future and try to guess potential questions. I wish I had asked my friends to suggest some potential questions and had a mock interview with one of them before the advisory interview. Whilst this cannot stop nerves, I’m sure that if I can anticipate questions, then I will feel more confident.
At the end of the interview I was asked for questions, but I did not really have any - I think it would have helped if I could have thought of a few before the interview. It would have shown that I had taken more interest in the company. Interviews are about the employee seeing if they match with the company, as well as the employer trying to see if you fit. I think I would have liked to see if I could have taken notes, as I forgot some information from the beginning, due to nerves, I may ask about this in the future.
Whilst I was reasonably well dressed, I think I did not sit comfortably or in the right way, again due to nerves. I wasn’t sure whether or not to shake hands, and although I did, I felt that they were sweaty with nerves. I fidgeted a bit. Also, I was asked to reply again a couple of times, this was because I was talking down, rather than at the face of the interviewer.
I am aware that nerves are one of my weaknesses, but I can build upon them. I will definitely practice with a friend before a future interview and ask for their honest feedback. I will try and be more prepared and not leave everything to the last minute.
It will be important to me to update my personal SWOT throughout my life and to enhance my CV. with new achievements as often as I can. As I become more experienced, my strengths will not only be reaffirmed, but will cover a broader remit than they do now. To be successful and to climb the corporate ladder, I will have to managing my career as if I were planning a step by step marketing campaign and keeping focused on my end goal - to climb that corporate ladder. By understanding my strengths and keeping up to date with business opportunities within the market I am interested in, I will not only be able to target companies more effectively, but ensure that I talk the same ‘language’ with the latest buzzwords and key phrases.
Using the marketing acronym A.I..D.A. I will
- Raise Awareness of my capabilities within the market place by volunteering for ongoing training opportunities, and even by analysing my own development needs. When I feel ready for promotion, I will subtly raise awareness of my willingness to progress and my availability/ willingness to undertake promotion or new job opportunities.
- Keep colleagues and potential employers Interested in me by effectively networking, effectively ’selling myself.’ By networking and continuing to build up a book of contacts I would hope to find opportunities before they have been advertised. Of course I realise that this is a two way process and that I would need to give as well as take, but I am willing to do this to progress. It will also help me to fulfil my social needs of being with people and feeling a part of a team.
- By raising and maintaining awareness in me, and thus keeping the interest current, I would hope that there would be a certain amount of Desire in either promoting or employing me.
- Action would be when I have secured the promotion or new position within another company.
But this is not a campaign for the next job; it will need to be a routine for life. There’s a lot of competition out there and many players, I must keep up to date to keep up.
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