In aspiring for the peak in your career, or success in other life endeavours, the ‘self’ should be the starting point of preparation. The common saying that ‘where there is a will, there is a way’ holds true; very few things can be accomplished in the absence of self-belief as well as a good understanding of your strengths, talents, skills, and weaknesses. The second thing to note is that you are an asset; not only that, you are a good or service that has market value.
Employers are mostly looking out for what value prospective employees can bring to the table in their scheme of things and how they can affect the bottom line of the organization for the better. These considerations usually come before they decide what value they can give to the prospective employee. As it is commonly said, ‘it is value for value’.
Knowing yourself will enable you to approach potential employers with confidence and clearly state what personal mix you can offer to enhance their operations and profitably. Examining yourself through your innate strength and weaknesses will give you knowledge about self-mastery.
A personal SWOT analysis is an audit of your person. It will help you to take stock of your strong points, weak spots, life opportunities and threats, with the view of identifying where you need to improve. It will also avail you with the hindsight to recognise and seize related opportunities, while being on the look out to forestall external threats.
What skills have you acquired that will add value to a specific or overall activity of an organization? Footballers are skilful with the ball; writers are skilful with the pen, what are you skilful in? Discovering your peculiar skills would pave you a pathway to a fulfilling and rewarding career.
S- Strengths. What are your peculiar abilities, skills and talents?
W- Weakness. What are your main limitations and what skills are needed in those areas?
O- Opportunities. What dreams, wishes, and goals have you been considering? Are there opportunities you haven’t previously considered?
T- Threat. What obstacles are in your way? What risks are you facing? What opportunities are best to pursue considering the threat?
Below are key points to note in personal discovery and mastery
- What do people say about you? Reference letters show how important the opinion of other people is to your personal/career growth and development. In assessing your potential, skills and competencies, the opinion of other people could help you in discovering yourself. Even with the help of a mirror, there are certain parts of the human body that are not visible. This is also applicable in the choice of a career.
- Personality Type. Are you a quiet person or an outgoing person, an introvert or an extrovert? Knowing your personality type will help you make certain career decisions that will align with your peculiar nature. An extremely quiet and introverted person would not do well as a marketing executive nor would an extroverted person who is loquacious do well working as a librarian or in an environment that requires reticence. Books like ‘Portraits of Temperaments’ by David Keirsey and ‘The 16 Personality Types, Descriptions for Self-Discovery’ by Linda V. Berens would help to discover your unique personality type.
- Learning from the experience of others. There are few things you may aspire to do that have not been done before or that someone else is not presently doing. Therefore, it is wise to learn from those who have learnt the ropes in order to minimize the number of mistakes you will make, whilst making your steps surefooted with a better sense of direction.
- Conducting Research. In the search for a suitable career option, information is essential to making an informed choice. Searching on the internet can give you a better view of the requirements and relevant details about a particular vocation, and with detailed information, you can make informed choices about your preferred career paths and destinations. For instance, if you find out that writing a particular professional examination such as Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) or Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM), can aid your career mobility, then you can commit to the process early enough without wasting time and resources elsewhere.
- Seeking Expert Advice and Counsel. Taking counsel from experts is also important to keep abreast of the realities of trends in a particular industry. This way, you will not run with preconceived ideas only to find out later that certain things are not as they appear.
There are career counsellors and career centres that help individuals to choose the right career path and make the most of their working life. With the aids of tools such as career profiling tests, self-discovery assessment tools, and relevant training, they provide an enabling platform for career direction, growth and development. In some cases, they also provide information on job listing and different recruitment services.
- Testing the Waters. When you have identified certain career options, it is advisable to put them to test. In some cases, you may not be able to determine the true value of a thing unless you try it out. Many companies give free trials of their products and services to prospective customers. This usually boosts the confidence of customers in the products, having personally tried them out. In a similar vein, one way to test your career preference is to look for a small-sized scenario that is related to the big picture.
For instance, if you are interested in pursuing a career in interior decoration, you could experiment by volunteering to decorate a friend’s apartment or a Church event free, or at a subsidized cost to ascertain whether you have what it takes to be an interior decorator or not. In the world of work, proof is glorified. You cannot boast of possessing certain skills and competencies without being able to put them to practical demonstration for other people to see. That is why organizations usually place premium on individuals with cognitive work experience as well as third party reference to vouch for the competence of whatever individuals they want to employ.