Regardless of where you are in your career right now, it’s critical to take time periodically check if your career is aligned with your skills, interests and personal aspirations.

To “Know Thyself” can power you through adversity and cut through distraction, especially when you’re considering a job, career or life change.

Read more about Career Advice – Know Thyself below

Career Advice – Know Thyself

Career Advice – Know Thyself is another contribution in our Food for Thought series.

Regardless of where you are in your career right now, it’s critical to take time periodically check if your career is aligned with your skills, interests and personal aspirations.

To “Know Thyself” can power you through adversity and cut through distraction, especially when you’re considering a job, career or life change.

Read more about Career Advice – Know Thyself below

portrait Selective Focus Photo of Magnifying Glass

What is your why?

In terms of your personal and professional life, self-reflect on this question – what is your “why?”

Understanding your mission in life will save frustration down the road and help you focus in when targeting companies, jobs and people you want to surround yourself with.

You don’t want to take a job where you’re working with a product, a team or a company whose mission is at odds with your own.

Case in point –  take the Facebook engineers who’ve resigned recently because of their discomfort with Facebook’s policies.

On the flip side, working for a company that’s well-funded, matches your particular skills and is solving a problem you’re passionate about(let’s say a SaaS company that sells Product Lifecycle Development software to biotech companies that work to rid the world of disease) is a near-guarantee recipe for long-term satisfaction AND success.

Another example is aligning your career and job search specifically to companies who share the same values when it comes to human health, nutrition, sustainability, etc. – even if your skill sets are industry-agnostic, it’s worth the effort to seek out people, companies and work environments that aren’t in conflict with your personal values.

WHO do you want to surround yourself with?

We spend an incredible amount of time with our co-workers, whether in-person, on the phone or through Zoom.

It’s critical, again, to “know thyself” – who do you like to surround yourself with?

What type of people can you learn from?

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WHO challenges you? 

Who motivates and helps you to thrive?

Be careful with this step – although job satisfaction IS tied to who you surround yourself with – job effectiveness requires being challenged and having your weaknesses pointed out and developed.

That requires at least a few people in your circle who will challenge you.

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What type of work keeps you engaged?

What type of work interests you?

What makes time fly by when you’re working?

Is there a segment of industry that gets you excited?

Does a hobby, something or someone that inspires you outside of work(a nurse, a doctor, a scientist, a visionary inventor)?

This “outside” interest could trigger a more targeted focus to an industry, a product or company where you could tie your “general” skills(sales, network engineer, data scientist) to your broader life mission(healthcare, addressing poverty, global warming, worker safety).

There is a correlation between enthusiasm and on-the-job performance.

Another example.

If you are a data scientist AND passionate about ending world hunger, you will more than likely be more successful as a Data Scientist at a company who shares this passion.

If you are interviewing for Data Scientist jobs, you’ll have a leg up on other Data Scientist competitors who are more agnostic or who view their job as “it’s just data”.

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Finding your value by working backwards

Sometimes it’s hard to articulate what you’re good at, much less figure out how these skills translate to on the job performance.

You have to figure it out though – it’s critical to understand what skills you have that make you unique or above-average.

If you’re struggling to verbalize what makes you stand out amongst your peers, work from behind.

Here’s an example exercise…

What are you good at?

I’m good at chess.

Can you make money doing this?

If I can’t play at the level of Gary Kasparov, I can’t make a living playing chess.

What makes you good at chess?

I’m able to assess my competitor well and I’m able to predict outcomes based on previous games and my competitor’s nature.

This gives me insight that allows me to win significantly more than not.

Sounds like you’re strategic,  insightful, experienced, competitive and capable of thinking critically.

With these more generalized skills, this person can start to look for jobs in the tech industry that are looking for someone that thinks strategically, is consumer/competitor-centric, is a critical thinker and has a competitive streak.

Because this person has developed skills with assessing others(their chess competitor), these skills index towards Product Marketing, Product Management in highly competitive industries.

Depending on their technical discipline(Marketing, Software Engineer, Sales, R&D), look for roles that appreciate your empathetic and competitor-centric nature.

This empathy combined with experience is great for companies creating new products or services – it’s also a value-add in companies that are in a highly competitive space.

The process of “knowing thyself” is constantly evolving.

Pay attention to the world around you and take time to visit how your career, daily work and people around you align with how your value system.

Let me know your thoughts about Career Advice – Know Thyself via email HERE, LinkedIn or through the form below.

Bob Pudlock

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