Saturday, April 30, 2011

You're a STAR

Before we move on to next competency, here's an addendum:

Become your own S.T.A.R.  What does this mean?

Just documenting your accomplishments isn't enough - you'll need to quantify/qualify them.  But, how do you do it?  Using the STAR technique helps you frame each "power story" and creates a picture or tells your story in a personal way, with a punch:

S = situation > describe your situation/problem/issue you dealt with
T=  tasks > what you needed to do in order to address the situation/problem/issue
A=  actions > what you did to address the situation/problem/issue
R = results > the measurable results of your efforts

My colleague, Betsey, (thanks, B)  advises we develop at least twelve power stories.  When I first heard her tell one of our students he needed these,  I thought to myself, "egads, that's a lot."  I have now come to endorse that, and more.  The more you can quantify/qualify your accomplishments, the better you're prepared to field virtually any interview question.  Behavioral  questions form the bulk of what employers ask and new surveys suggest that "culture fit" (code for:  will you fit into our organization?)  is the NUMBER ONE attribute employers look for in candidates.  Recruiters assume you've got the technical/content chops for the job, but need to be convinced you've got the temperament for their culture.

Wanted to put this out as an
      indent to the previous get writing, and I'll suggest the next competency soon...

ps  if you struggle with this, you're not alone...practice with someone who you trust and who believes in you..

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Career Competency #3!

This week's  competency is as follows:
I have seven major achievements that clarify a pattern of interests and abilities that are relevant to my job and career.

OK - this is serious - you all have at least seven, don't you?  This can be in the form of projects, events, tasks, or even something you volunteered for - sort of a "go above and beyond the call of duty" period.  As I told one of my MBA grads today, document, document, document the minute you start your job and quantify as much as possible.
Here's the thing:  you may not even realize these patterns - maybe you're not that aware that is really IS an achievement--maybe you just chalk it up to working hard.  Maybe you think you're doing great stuff but someone minimizes it in some way.

HEY! This is where you've got to just stop and think - are other folks doing this?  Is this something I'm proud of?  Are folks I care about paying attention to this?  If so, write it down, and be proud of it!

When I first tried this, I started to wonder if my efforts were worthy of writing down.  Here's my first entry:
Coordinated a two day Career Pathways Conference, facilitating two workshops

Then I looked at what I wrote and thought, "wow, I did that."  But when it came time to put that on my resume, I felt embarrassed.  HUH?  The point is, we often minimize or forget about the results of our efforts.  And, if we are truly concerned about managing our careers, we need to keep a record of what we've done and promote ourselves every chance we get.  This is hard to do for females especially.  What?  Tout our skills?  YES - be proud of what you can do and tell people about it!

Stay tuned for next week's competency:  I know what I like and dislike in work......

Monday, April 18, 2011

This week's career competency

This week's career competency is:  "I can identify my strongest abilities and skills." What does this mean?  Well, in a sentence, it means:  do you know what you do best?  This one deals not only with your perceived "brand", but who you REALLY are.  Ask yourself:  can I identify my strongest abilities and skills?  Creative?  Intuitive?  Designer?  Counselor?  Writer?  Collaborator? Scientist?  Fixer-upper? Uber- organized? Problem-solver?  Researcher?  Manager?  Juggler?  And.....what among these skills can you transport into a different career area?
We are not only NOT brought up to think of ourselves as having (wonderful) skills, but we tend not to even think about this subject as we move into adulthood.  A good amount of introspection and reflection about what you have to offer to crucial to your career management.  Like recruiters usually remark, "if you don't know what you can do, neither do we!"  Here's a tip if you just can't identify your own skills:  ask someone who knows you well to tell what they think your skills are....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Today's career competency

Today's career competency is:  I know what motivates me in the workplace.   Score yourself from 1-5, 1: strongly agree and 5: strongly disagree.
This has to do with a few things:  your work values and your motivated skills.  Does your current workplace fit your work values, such as opportunity to use your intellect, your creativity; does it provide you with independence or are you able to work in teams?  If not, maybe this is de-motivating you.  Everyone has different needs that they want to be met where they work! In addition, we all have lots and lots of skills - some of which we LOVE to use, and others we either are neutral about, or just hate to use.  Then there are other skills we'd love to improve upon.  What skills do you have that you really need to utilize daily?  These are motivated skills - be intentionally aware of these and they will help you understand why you look forward to go to work everyday.  For those of you who are using skills that you only moderately like or even have that "Ugh" feeling when you use them, I say it's time to take a look at the very tasks/skills you like the most and think about either trying to leverage them in your current position, or start looking for positions that allow you to utilize those skills that you really love.
Next competency we'll explore:  I can identify my strongest abilities and skills.
Stay tuned and believe in yourself,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yikes I"ve been neglecting my blog!

The world is changing so quickly I can barely keep up with it, especially trends in career management! I"ve been busier over the past twelve months working as a private career coach, contractor and part-time Associate Director of MSU's MBA Career Services Center than at any time in my career.  This tells me (and confirmed by a recent survey) that contract employees, temps or interim workers are one of the biggest trends in 2011.  Daniel Pink's great book, Free Agent Nation, predicted this phenom.

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is a well-honed, current toolkit of career management skills. There are 27 career competencies everyone needs to possess!  In upcoming posts, I'll review each one, and share some ideas about how you can gain these essential skills.