Ever been asked to describe yourself in a few words? Okay sure you have to think about this when you’re put on the spot in a job interview, but outside of that situation, how often do you think about the qualities you have; the things you strive for, the kind of person you are? How would you describe yourself in a few sentences, and would you articulate the things that best describe you? Most people I find can’t do this in a way that they are entirely happy with. A lot of the time they later say, “I wish I’d said ______ instead. Why didn’t I think of that?”
I think about these things a lot of the time, but I suppose I do so because my career brings me into daily contact with people whom in great part, I’m supporting and guiding to discover themselves. Discover themselves? While I admit they know themselves better and more intimately than I ever will, it’s typical that people have difficulty in voicing who they are in quick order.
The thing is, given enough time, any one of us could likely write a great number of qualities we possess. You might make a list with words such as: hard-working, dependable, friendly, honest etc. just to name a few. While these words might indeed be representative of who you are, surely there’s more to you that do sets you apart from everyone else. You are after all, unique. Maybe you do see yourself as an ordinary run-of-the-mill person, not special in any particular way, with no outstanding achievements; nothing of note that distinguishes your life from those of the people you work and play with. This might indeed be upon reflection what you’re comfortable with; an ordinary Joe.
In some situations, such as interviewing for a new career or job, it can work for us or against us to be just so. The employer might be looking for someone to come in and do the job as it’s always been done, to assimilate into their existing workforce with no fanfare, not so much as even making a ripple in the transition onto a team. If that’s the case and you’re that kind of interchangeable person they are looking for, then you’ll be a good fit.
On the other hand, some job postings will say that the employer is looking for someone who stands out, has drive and passion, is a trend-setter not a follower. If in an interview you can show that you’re invested, enthusiastic, resilient, driven etc. you might hit upon impressing the interviewer with how well you know yourself and how you are distinguishable from the other candidates in some way they find attractive. In so doing, you might just stand out and be the right person they are looking for.
Knowing what employers are looking for is not only half the battle, it’s the key. So the goal leading up to the interview becomes identifying what exactly the needs of the employer are; and not just in terms of what they put on the job posting. Sometimes an advanced call to the right person can yield this information. You may actually find that what you learn turns you off or takes your excitement about landing the job to a whole new level.
Now I’m sure your shaking your head, ready to tell me and any other readers that employers these days won’t talk to you in advance of the interview; that often you can’t even identify the organization posting the very job itself if it goes through a temporary service agency. Sure that might be the case. However, don’t let that deter you from trying and I mean REALLY trying to get that information. For when you do succeed in establishing contact and having a pre-emptive conversation with the employer, they can and do become extremely interested in this candidate who is demonstrating their tenacity and thoroughness. I know because I’ve done this myself and it works.
Returning to a key point I mentioned earlier, know yourself. How would you define yourself using the skill-based language that is typically evident in your profession? Are you an empathetic and responsive Personal Support Worker? How about a driven and results-oriented commissioned Salesperson? These extra adjectives are far more appealing and descriptive than simply being a PSW or Salesperson alone. The words fit the profession – that is of course if the organizations themselves place high values on the empathy and responsiveness of their PSW’s and the sales force is expected to be driven in that commissioned environment.
Now me, I’ve laid myself out as an Enthusiastic and Empowering Employment Counsellor. Look at my LinkedIn profile and it’s there in my title; it’s my brand. All the posts I pen are designed to aid and empower others in fact. More so, I can back up these claims with concrete examples that demonstrate and prove I’ve got the skills and characteristics I claim.
Now what of you? How do you define yourself succinctly and accurately? Who are you? When you voice your answer do you sound confident, unsure, doubtful or do you speak with conviction? Are you ordinary or extraordinary? There’s a place for everyone no matter who you are in the workforce, and while one employer wants extraordinary, others want ordinary. The key is to get the right fit. Knowing yourself is half the equation.