"Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade?"-- Benjamin Franklin
I am currently sitting at my favourite local Lido, watching the crystalline water moving and receding, the beautiful blue sea and those wonderful Eolian islands just a few kilometers away. I am, finally, technically, on holiday. Technically because I have two young children, so holidays as I remembered them are gone for now, replaced by active, not so relaxing but fun holidays. Finally because it has been a busy year so far: a new baby in April, a new home in May and a new job in the summer. Good thing on New Year`s Eve my husband and I had said we were “going to take it easy” this year!!
So yes, a new job. Do you know that time in life when you feel it is time to leave the “comfort zone”? The feeling that it is time for new challenges? And above all the awareness that it is time to change whatever it is that you don`t like or does not work for your beliefs anymore. I went for that change.
I had some interesting weeks these past few months, juggling the usual, researching and preparing, I also vaguely remember taking a (work related) call at 9am after giving birth at 4am of the same day… While pregnant, I leveraged on the fact that I was just too big and uncomfortable to sleep and spent a few nights trying to understand what it was that I really wanted to do next.
This time I had two questions in mind: “what am I good at?” and “what is it that I really enjoy doing”. What overlapped on my list was what I went for.
But how do you go about assessing your real strengths and weaknesses?
More importantly, how do you know for sure what you really like doing?
Some of us just know. Some need guidance. Some want to assess and reassess.
Here is what I did and a few more things I heard of but did not get to try first hand.
I hope it helps those who, like me, have been looking for a little reassessment in their lives.
1 - Assessing your skill set.
2 – Assess what you like doing.
Sit with yourself. Take some time out of your typical day and let your thoughts speak to you. Be honest and realistic. As for me, my choice was fairly easy this time as I am happy with the city with live in (city nr 4, country nr 3), happy with the industry and with the company. It was simply time to make a change after 4 years in the same role. But I hear daily from people ready to make a much bigger change. Plan accordingly, speak to whoever can give you advice or share their experience and give your best to go for it.
3 - Polish your CV.
Get an agency to update your CV or do it yourself with online resources. Keep it clean, clear and updated. Tailor it. Make a good list of references. Keep in touch or get back in touch with your professional network. Create a new one too. Make time to meet people, colleagues, ex colleagues, friends who work in different companies, industries, countries that are on your radar.
Application and motivation letters: personally, I have never written one as far as I can remember. Of course I would add notes or short cover letters in my emails or to online applications. I have never got a job or an interview because I knew somebody. On that front, I can say that I really never knew anybody, so applications and the likes have always gone through the main doors in my case, company job boards and/or headhunters. And yet, so far it has worked.
I have always discussed the possible contents of such letters in person at the actual interview, but there is no denying that they are important and can sometimes make a difference.
4 - Social media detox.
Clean all your profiles. Linkedin and Xing are professional social networks and need to be treated like an online CV. Recruiters look at them, so do your old and potential next stakeholders. Make your FB profile fully private. Clean up your Twitter account. Close your old accounts (I still have some Jurassic useless profiles somewhere out there in the cyber space too…) or they will show up in google. Also, google yourself and see what`s out there under your name. You will be surprised!
5 – Inspiration.
6 - Interviews.
Prepare. Find out all you can about the interviewers, the team, the department, and the company. Quarter results, yearly results, current senior management. Read their reports, check their websites. Know their competitors. Learn the figures. Remember where they want to get, their mission and some history. Why would you make a difference. How can you help. Gut feelings matter so does emotional intelligence. Be yourself. Plus of course prepare whatever you are required to, business plans & co and have someone giving you a second opinion. These points are always on my check-list.
Finally, if you make mistakes, learn from them. If you do not succeed, ask HR for an update on what did not work and try again. And again.
“Why do they always teach us that it's easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It's the hardest thing in the world--to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want.” ― Ayn Rand