By Miriam Salpeter
It’s difficult to find a job if you don’t know what you want to do. Sounds obvious? Have you really focused on your skills and accomplishments and whether they help qualify you for the jobs you seek? One pet peeve of recruiters and hiring managers is that job seekers often apply for positions ill-suited to their requirements. Don’t be one of those job seekers. Before applying, take some time to figure out what you want to do – and what you’re good at – and it will be easier to get hiring managers to notice you.
Kerry Schofield, chief psychometrics officer at Good.Co., a self-discovery platform and network serving professionals who are looking for more meaning in their careers, suggests the following reasons why knowing yourself better will improve your job prospects:
- You’ll narrow down your options. Don’t focus on the most general factors about the job, such as whether it has the right pay grade, prospects and location. These are all important variables to consider, but many positions fit these basic, practical criteria.
Schofield notes: “Self-assessment can help us move beyond these questions to make more informed selections from the possibilities available, based on our individual personality and how it fits with the culture of the organizations we’re considering.” For example, do you prefer a more structured environment with hands-on guidance, or a flexible one where initiative is rewarded? Is it more important to have a supportive, friendly team of co-workers, or the opportunity to work as independently as possible?
Your personality will dictate your answers to these questions. “When you narrow down the options, it allows you to focus on quality over quantity – a smaller number of more tailored applications with a higher probability of success,” Schofield explains.
- You’ll know yourself better. You may prepare to discuss your strengths and weaknesses at an interview, but how well do you really understand them? “You’ll want to assess any gaps in your skills, but when you look at these from the perspective of your personality and values, you can gain a realistic, genuinely insightful understanding of your true pattern of strengths and weaknesses,” Schofield says. The result? You will appear more sincere, mature and self-aware in applications and interviews. “Everybody has weaknesses; if we can demonstrate that we already recognize ours, and know how to ameliorate or channel them in a positive way, this will come across much better than a half-hearted stock-phrase.”
You will be better prepared for interviews, and when you’re honest about whether you’re a good fit for the job, you’ll have a better chance of landing the interview.
- You’ll avoid applying for unsuitable jobs. You can be more confident when job searching if you understand what has gone wrong in the past. If you keep missing out on positions that appear to be perfect matches, you’ll want to put your finger on what went wrong.
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“Self-assessment and an understanding of organizational culture and cultural fit can help us recognize the reasons why previous applications or positions may not have worked out,” Schofield says. “This knowledge gives us the tools we need to make changes next time around – we can learn more about the organization’s culture and our fit with it before applying for a job, for example, identify any potential mismatches in personality, goals or values, and plan for how to deal with this at the outset.”
- You’ll avoid surprises. Companies know the cost of making a poor hiring choice, and they are increasingly trying to identify and parse individual differences and match for cultural fit. While not all companies include a personality assessment as part of the application, it is not unusual for potential and existing employers to expect applicants and current to complete some kind of psychometric test, Schofield says.
If you understand the information and processes involved in psychometric assessments, you’ll have a head start on answering difficult questions and assuage concerns employers might have about your fit. The best way to do this is to take self-assessment tests yourself so you’ll be well-informed and prepared.
- You’ll improve your communication skills, and be a better candidate. Communication skills are key to qualifying for most jobs, and they’re important when job seeking, too. “From reading between the lines of a job advertisement to presenting oneself effectively in an interview, self-assessment brings awareness of the way in which we naturally prefer to communicate,” Schofield says. “Are you bubbly, energetic and accommodating, or serious, thoughtful and straightforward?”
Understanding others’ communication styles and how they interact with you is just as important as knowing about your own. When you have a firm handle on your own skills, personality and interests as they relate to your job search, you’ll be a better candidate and more likely to land the job when interviewed.
Miriam Salpeter, owner of Keppie Careers, is often quoted in major media outlets for her job search and social media expertise. Author of three books and a sought-after speaker and coach, she leverages her extensive background and successes to teach job seekers and entrepreneurs how to easily use social media marketing to accomplish their career and business goals.
Originally appeared on U.S. News & World Report