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  • Estelle Curry

Creating Awareness - Prepare to Flourish series

When you decide to look for a new job, what do you think is the first thing you need to do? You would be forgiven for thinking that updating your resume is the first step. It seems logical. But what if I told you that there are a few steps you could take, prior to working on your resume, that would give you a better chance of success? Would you put the work in at the beginning if it meant a better outcome? If so, read on.

Spend some time reflecting on what you want and need from your next job, as well as what strengths and values you bring to your work. You could use this knowledge as a guiding principle during your job search and increase your chances of finding a fulfilling role. You could also use this insight to showcase your strengths and values, demonstrating why you're an ideal candidate.

What are you looking for in a new job?

The first step is to find out what type of role you are interested in. Assuming you know what kind of job you want there are other things to consider.

  1. How clear are you on the type of team you want to work in?

  2. Typically, do you work better in large or small groups?

  3. If you manage people, how many do you usually like to oversee?

  4. What level of seniority do you want to report to?

  5. How much responsibility do you want and are you ready for?

  6. How broad or narrow do you like your job to be?

These are all role-specific questions you can ask yourself before starting your job search. It will make the process much easier as you'll quickly be able to shortlist the right roles for you rather than apply for lots of unsuitable positions.

The next important step is to decide which industry you want to work in. Do you love working for non-profits, the public sector, or are you happier in the environment of private companies? Maybe you like global firms, or you prefer family run organizations, serving the local communities. How vital are company values to you? How aligned do your own values need to be with the values of the place you are going to work? Maybe you haven’t identified your personal values. If not, the accompanying podcast to this article will walk you through identifying them and how you can leverage that knowledge in your job search.

What about an organization's commitment to diversity or responsible business practices? How important would it be to you, working for a company that shares your sense of responsibility? One positive outcome from COVID-19 is the evidence to businesses that flexible working practices can and do work. What level of flexibility would you like in your new role?

What are your strengths?

Once you have established what you want from a job, it's time to clarify what you can bring to that role. Establishing what you do well and continuing to improve your knowledge, skills, and behaviors will bring more fulfillment

Some people are very clear on their strengths, others may have an idea, but not quite sure. If you're in the latter group, the following paragraph may help you get some clarity.

Think about your biggest successes so far in your career:

  • What is your number one career achievement?

  1. What made that so successful?

  2. What behaviors were you displaying in that case?

  • If someone was to ask one of your old bosses for a reference, what would they say about you?

  • What accomplishments were highlighted in your last performance review?

  • What types of projects or tasks do you find easy?

  • What parts of your previous jobs have you most enjoyed?

  1. Why do you think you enjoyed those aspects?

Now think outside of work, what do your friends and family think you're good at? If you don't know, ask them!

Once you've done all that, it would help to follow up with a free online strengths assessment. I suggest doing this after everything else because doing self-reflection allows you to gather evidence of your strengths. It requires you to pick examples of your qualities and to select examples of what you did well. It helps you articulate what you're good at, which will serve you well as you move through the interview stages. There are plenty of free strengths assessments available online. For example, has written a recent article on the three most accurate strengths assessment.

If you choose to skip the manual self-reflection and go straight to the digital assessment, you'll get a list of strengths from a computer program, which is often quite accurate. But you'll miss out on the gathering evidence piece, and that is very valuable when it comes to writing an excellent resume and cover letter. It will also make it easier to tell your story concisely during an interview.

The digital strengths assessment is a great way to confirm what you already know! Now that you've established what you want from a job and what you have to offer, this is the time to work on your wish list. I always find it helpful to set out;

  1. What you need from a job

  2. What you want from a job

  3. What you wish for from a job.

Doing this before your job search is a great way to get focus and save time. Pin it up somewhere visible and refer to it before applying for a job. It will prevent you from wasting time on roles that aren't right for you. That means you’ll have more time to put effort into positions that are right for you and meet your needs.

Now that you've identified your strengths join us for our upcoming podcast. We'll talk about values, how to identify them and how to use them as a valuable tool in your job search. You can listen to our accompanying podcast here.

What steps will you take this week to flourish?

Edited by Stephen Flanagan at Talent Attract.


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