• Knowing yourself well is essential to making good career change decisions.
  • High self-awareness results in higher self-confidence and better job matches.
  • Self-awareness is built through self-reflection, assessments and feedback.

The climate of economic uncertainty is bringing sudden changes in many organizations resulting in re-deployments and layoffs and creating new opportunities for career advancement. Now is the time to be ready to make decisions about your future by investing in one of the most important career faculties: self-awareness.

Self-awareness means knowing and accepting your strengths, weaknesses and preferences. It takes a certain detachment to be truly honest about what kind of person you are. People are often overly modest about their strengths, or they take them for granted thinking that everyone has them. People often either deny their weaknesses or constantly focus on fixing them. The most success people fully accept their strengths and weaknesses and find situations that allow them to be at their best.

When you fully understand your own personality, you can change jobs more easily for two reasons: you will know exactly what kind of job suits you and you can more accurately and confidently describe yourself to hirers.

A job search is much easier when you know exactly what you are looking for. You can clearly describe the job you want to your contacts and supporters so that they can refer opportunities.

And once you’ve found the opportunities, you can apply and interview for jobs much more confidently. When your personality and the job fit well, you can focus on being yourself instead of trying to be someone you are not. Recruiters and potential employers can  sense the underlying confidence of self-aware people. Even if the job you are applying for is not for you, recruiters will feel more confident in referring you to other jobs, since they sense that you represent yourself honestly and accurately.

When you already know about your weaknesses, have accepted them and understand how they contribute to the strength of your overall personality, no one can discourage you with slights about your faults. When you know yourself well, you are also more likely to be successful in your job. Research has shown managers and leaders who know themselves better are more successful.

Building self-awareness is a continuing process that lasts a lifetime. Even though you may know yourself well at age 20, you will need to explore yourself again and again as your personality develops based on the challenges you meet in life.

There are three primary strategies for increasing your self-awareness. The first one is self-reflection. Take some time to write down what you think about yourself, what you like and dislike and what you want and need. The free e-course that I offer provides some support for this step. Rather than keeping thoughts about yourself in your head, put them on paper. If you are the creative type, you can draw, paint or create pictures, maps or metaphors of yourself. Metaphors are an excellent way to represent the immense complexity of a personality.

Another way to know yourself better is through assessments.There are hundreds of simple, free online assessments that let you play with ideas about what kind of person you are. Better still, many of the assessments used for hiring, staff development and team building can give a very accurate portrayal of who you are. The better you know yourself already, the more sophisticated the tool you will need to shed more light. Look for assessments to help you clarify your work-related tendencies as most relevant for clarifying your optimum career path. The assessments I recommend are ideal for understanding what role is ideal for you.

A third valuable way to understand yourself is through feedback from others. No matter how hard you look, you can never see yourself through another person’s eyes. Information on how you come across is an invaluable source of insight. Ask your close friends and co-workers for an honest assessment of your biggest strengths and worst weaknesses. Solicit specific examples so you can understand how they came to that impression. Make the most of your annual performance appraisals or other formal feedback mechanisms. To encourage others to be honest and open, offer to give them feedback in return.

None of us knows when sudden changes may force us to move to a new job. Now is always the right time to strengthen the foundations that will allow you to make smooth and successful career changes.

Photo Credit: Julia Caesar

Angela Spaxman
Angela Spaxman
Career and Leadership Coach , Loving Your Work
Angela Spaxman is one of Hong Kong’s leading experts in professional coaching. She is a highly effective and experienced executive coach, career coach, corporate facilitator and trainer. Angela’s leadership experiences, her decades of personal development, her well-grounded confidence and her natural curiosity give her great insight into how to manage, motivate and lead people to be at their best.