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Recognize this one thing and it will get you where you need to go

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As you’re reading this, think about someone you’re close to – a colleague, your boss, a direct report, or hey – maybe your spouse or in-laws. If you were to explain them in a few words, what would you say and how would you say it?

I can almost guarantee you that you’d start with the good stuff: “My boss is easy to talk to, receptive to new ideas, creative…” and then you’d go on to say “BUT he/she lacks technical skills”. No one is perfect, and everyone has some area of weakness or as I like to call it “a development opportunity”.

Now step back for a moment and answer this: How would others describe you?

In my years as a human resources professional within a large investment bank, I came across many candidates and employees who never saw their “but” (or their development opportunity). And those were the people who failed – either they never got hired or if they did, they didn’t last due to poor performance (usually lacking teamwork skills or listening skills).

So let’s go back – what is your BUT? If someone had to describe you, how would they describe you professionally – both the strengths and development opportunities? This exercise will let you see what areas you need to improve upon to grow, strengthen, and advance in your career. It will give you self-awareness. If you are currently looking for a job and have had a hard time finding one after going through many interviews, step back and really think about if you have this sense of self-awareness. Can you see yourself as others see you from the outside? How would you evaluate yourself? The more self-awareness you have, the better you will be at interviewing, performing your day-to-day tasks, and working with others in a team environment. Here are my tips on how to be more self-aware:

– Before answering a question, take a second and think about how you should respond. Don’t rush through your answers. BE HONEST and natural.
– Before speaking up in a meeting or conversation, make sure you are not interrupting someone and make sure your comments are on topic. Be aware of your tone.
– Don’t ramble! Being self-aware also means being able to realize when you’re done speaking.
– When getting dressed for work or for an interview, ask yourself if what you’re wearing is appropriate.
– Are you actually listening to what others are saying?
– Be aware of your surroundings. Recognize the culture and attitude around you and adapt or respect it, as necessary.
– Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Being self-aware means you can recognize your shortcomings. Work to strengthen those skills so you won’t need to ask for help again.

-Allison Kolmer, Drum Associates

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