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Reaching Your Professional Goals: Managing Yourself

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

Have you ever encounter a friend that comes up to you and says, "I'm afraid that they will reject me because I'm not good enough to be accepted," "I'm afraid the relation between my study field and the work field that I've applied for is lacking.", "I think I'm bad in having connection/networking." How do you respond to those concerns? Or have you ever questioned it yourself? If the answer is (both) correct, then you're in for a treat.

Concerns are more likely to happen when you're entering the professional world. You may tend to view everything as a competition, and yes, competing in the workforce can be pretty intense. But what you may not have realized yet is you're also distinct from anyone else in the room. If we were going to talk in a broader philosophical sense, we have to agree that God never creates the same individual to walk on this planet. Right? First of all, let's cut that complaint about lack of connection and other negative thoughts because not every self-judgment is true. Maybe your thoughts are just referring to you as someone who's probably more introverted than your colleagues!

Talking about introverts, how do we know of other traits that could contribute to producing those concerns? The answer is through completing personality tests! Especially in the workforce, personality tests are becoming more popular and suitable for assessing job applicants. It's popular nowadays because companies try to better understand their employees and remain more empathetic and open-minded around other people. There are three most popular personality tests in workplaces:

  • Big Five

The Big Five Personality Test, also known as the OCEAN (Openness, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Extraversion, and Neuroticism) model, is one of the most commonly used personality tests for assessing a job candidate's fit in the recruitment process. The model is known to be valid enough to evaluate your performance in a work situation.

  • DISC

The DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance) model of behavior was first proposed by William Moulton Marston, Ph.D., which later got improved by Inscape Publishing to calculate your typical everyday behavior. The results may also suggest which kind of job fits you better, such as the Dominance people may perform better in the Law field better than the Steadiness people.

  • Myers-Briggs'

You probably heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the 16 Personality test because people in many backgrounds have widely used it. Jung's theory inspired the test to identify a person's types, strengths, and preferences. But nowadays, many researchers are questioning the validity of the test. So, we also need to understand that we can't put ourselves into specific types. Humans are still evolving— right?

If you're interested in trying other personality tests, we recommend you to try the IPIP-NEO and the Enneagram personality test. Just remember that we can't fully put ourselves into individual "boxes," personality tests are just a practical solution to help you gain awareness of yourself.

After reviewing your test results, you'll indeed be enlightened with facts about yourself and then gain some self-knowledge. You'll probably know more about your strengths better than your weaknesses. When this part happens, we want you to question these five questions (inspired by Peter F. Drucker) about yourself. If you're eager to reach your professional goals, these questions might be the keys to your success:

1. What Are My Values?

Take a mirror and while you see your reflection, try asking, "What kind of person do I want to see in the mirror?" Do you want to see yourself as responsible, loyal, compassionate, or perhaps full of integrity? Seriously, visualizing the person you want to become is fundamental. Knowing your values equals knowing what kind of job fits you. Even if you don't share the same values with your future company, it's completely understandable as long as they are close enough to coexist and don't create value-conflict because it will only result in frustration or even counterproductive.

2. Where Do I Belong?

Asking this question leads to you deciding where you do not belong. Other questions can sound like, "What kind of work environment do you desire?" Because successful careers develop when people are prepared for the opportunities they think they're earning, they also know their strengths and work methods. For example, a person who learned that she's not a decision-maker should learn how to say no to a decision-making assignment. Careful with having too attached to a job, you should also be aware of the places that can always help you reach your goals every day instead of being stuck in your "comfort zone." You can ask the HR professionals during interviews, such as, "Is there any ongoing training for career growth or self-development in this company?" That way, you'll know if the company provides you a place to grow and a sense of belongingness.

3. What Are My Strengths?

The ugly truth is people tend to focus on their weaknesses instead of their strengths. Therefore, it is most important and better for you to start recognizing your vigorous skills. We've collected three kinds of skills and their sub-skills that you might want to explore.

  • Transferable skills: Great communication, Leadership experience, Team player, Problem-solving, Effective listener, Bilingual

  • Knowledge-based skills: Photography, Engineering, Legal, Teaching, Civil engineering, Philosophy, Marketing

  • Personal skills: Open-minded, Responsible, Caring, Flexible, Trustworthy, Ambitious

Knowing your core strengths is very useful. Some of the benefits are that you can input a list of your skills in your CV or resume, and also prevent you from a "freezing" situation while doing an interview (e.g., employers tend to ask questions like, "Can you mention your three biggest strengths?"). But take notes, don't ever try to change yourself for a job. Differentiate the meaning of requirements/qualifications and responsibility in a job opening. Try to connect the dots between your skills and experiences so you'll stay genuine to yourself. Yes, keep being yourself is not a cliche statement. It's a must!

Anyway— how can you find out your real strengths? The answer is by writing down your goals (e.g., with a 30-60-90 day plan), then compare the actual goal with your expected goal several months later. Also, look for your patterns. Those can contribute to your actions such as, "What abilities do you need to enhance to reach your goal?", "What unproductive habits are preventing you from reaching your goal?". As you identify your strengths, put less effort into improving areas with low competence. Concentrate on just three specialties that you think you're very good at so your focus doesn't get divided. By doing so, there's a chance you'll uncover skills that may also align with your hobbies, resulting in finding some other opportunities rather than just sticking to one job. If you're still unsure of your skills, you can try doing the 360 user feedback or feedback analysis with your friends or colleagues to gain some fairness.

4. What Should I Contribute?

To acquire a sense of belongingness with the environment, you also need to contribute to places you encounter (e.g., household, organizations, workplace). This way, you'll feel more engaged in your role. So, address these three elements to find your contribution.

  • What does the situation require?

  • How can I make the most outstanding contribution to what needs to be done?

  • What results have to be achieved to make a difference?

The results should be hard to achieve, but they also should be within your reach. Connect the dots between your experience with the qualifications and job responsibility. If you don't know what kind of contribution you can give, you can simply ask!

5. How Do I Work?

Lastly, identify how you learn in an environment. Are you a reader or a listener? Do you work well with people or alone? Are you a decision-maker or an adviser kind of person? Are you an influencer or a follower? We’ve managed to hold a polling session in our last webinar, thus bringing results to the above questions.

These results show that we have our preferences in completing a task or solving problems. For example, if you do work well with people, ask what relationship you will be involved in within the organization. Because some people work best as subordinates, but some can work best as team members or even alone. That's okay, as long as you stay genuine to yourself and work hard to improve the way you perform!

To get a clearer view of how those five questions work to help you reach your professional goals, we've concluded into a pyramid that consists of the bottom, middle, and top layers. The very base or bottom layer will forge when you've known your strengths, values, and methods of work. Secondly, the middle layer is built when you've found a way to coexist with your values and your workplace so that you won't get conflicted along the way. The top layer happens when you've discovered acceptance that everyone has its uniqueness and that you've worked well in your previous company and in the present, you did well. We guarantee that your attempts to build those layers will surely help you reach your professional goals. Oh, and remember, Skills + Personality + Environment = Behavior on the job. Best of luck! And if you're interested in topics around career development, make sure to stay tuned to our next blog posts! Follow us too on Instagram @ayureadypodcast!

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