How to Conduct a Personal Inventory

How to Conduct a Personal Inventory
How to Conduct a Personal Inventory: Do you ever wonder? What can I do? Which things am I good at? What skills do I bring to the workplace? If so, a personal inventory may be just the thing. It is composed of three steps: a Skills Assessment, Interest Assessment, and Job Market Assessment.

Personal Inventory – Step 1: Conducting the Skills Assessment to identify your abilities

A skills assessment is a good way to see what skills you have. You can also identify areas to improve. The assessment asks questions and your answers help you develop a skill profile of your capabilities. This can make it clear what you are good at and what skills you bring to the job. It can also help you identify areas you would like to strengthen in order to be even more competitive in the job market.

A skills assessment can provide you with confidence in your own abilities! It can empower you to ask for a promotion, look for a new job, or consider going out on your own. When you know your own strengths, you can be your own cheerleader as you navigate the career path that is right for you.

Where to Start – Skills Assessment

So where do you start? Here are some web links that can take you to free skill assessment tools. Take a few minutes to explore these tools and assess your job skills.

How to Continue – Consider how to use your skills on the job

Once you know your skills, consider how they can be used on the job.  What jobs would use your skills?  What skills would you like to develop further in order to be more competitive in the current job market?  Come up with a strategy for regular improvement of your skills.  Working on one new skill at a time can expand your capabilities.  Just think of all the new skills you could develop over a number of years!

Consider adding new skills

As you evaluate your skill set, keep in mind that there are certain skills that will be useful no matter what career you are in.   Now may be a good time to tune-up some basic skills and enroll in an online course on Skills for Making Great Decisions, Interpersonal Communication, or Keys to Effective Communication.

You are now one-third of the way through your personal inventory. After completing your skills assessment, take the time to evaluate your interests, the job market, your life stage and purpose, and explore career opportunities that are a good match for you.

Personal Inventory – Step 2: Complete the Interest Assessment to figure out what you like to do

The second part of the personal inventory is an interest assessment. What is an interest assessment? It is way to find out what you are really interested in. After all, those who love what they do on the job, never feel like they are working! They may work, but the excitement and enthusiasm for what they do is so great it doesn’t feel like work. You can be one of the lucky ones and do what you love. This starts by figuring out what you like by taking an interest assessment.

Interest Assessment

What do you like to do? How do you spend your free time? What do you do when you don’t have to do something? The answers to these questions can help you identify your areas of interest. Even if you are good at something, you may not like doing it. The happiest people are those who do what they like on the job. Listen to Your Heart and Success Will Follow is an online course that helps you identify areas of interest and ways to move forward with those interests. Take the time to evaluate what you like and dislike. Below are several interest assessments that can help you identify your areas of interest.

Compare your interests and Skills

Once you have evaluated and identified your areas of interest, then take the time to compare your interests to your skill set.  How do your skills match up with your interests?  Do you have the skills to work in your interest area?  If not, what skills do you need to develop? Make a plan to align your capabilities with your interests and you will find it easy to be working in your area of interest.

Look at pay scales for things you are interested in

When evaluating your interests, you may find that you have more than one area of interest. If this is the case, then consider other factors such as which of your interests would pay more money. You may decide to pursue the more lucrative interest as an easy way to meet your financial goals.

Whatever your area of interest, be sure to also consider other factors such as the job market, your life stage and purpose, career opportunities, and your skill sets. Your final career decision should be based on a solid understanding of each of these things. Great! Now you are on the home stretch of your personal inventory. Only one steps left.

Personal Inventory – Step 3: Complete the Job Market Assessment for the current marketplace

An important part of the personal inventory is the job market assessment. airplaneThe job market assessment will help you evaluate the current job market, the number of jobs available, the type of pay in the marketplace, and how tough the competition is. If you are equally qualified in two areas, then you want to target the job market which is easier to enter. Knowing the job market can help you plan strategically to be prepared for those markets that hold the jobs of the future.

Assess the Job Market

How do you assess the job market? The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook is a searchable handbook. You can search jobs by pay, educational requirements, and growth rate. Use the handbook to help you identify job areas with more jobs in the future. Find jobs that match your interests and skills and pay well. Consider areas where a little job training may help you be competitive in a field you would enjoy.

Look at career trends

Take a look at National Job Trends.  Consider current job trends and how your skills, abilities, and interest can contribute in jobs that have an upward trend. Evaluate Employment Projections.   This can help you identify those areas where there is likely to be the most job growth. Consider career trends for 2014.

Compare your skills and interests to trends

Once you have gathered information on career trends, take the time to compare your career skills and interests with the trends. Find a good match between your skills and the job market.  What jobs catch your interest that would pay you the most?  Do your skills match rising job market trends? How can you make your skills even more competitive in the marketplace?  What training would help you improve your job skills? Which job trends interest you the most? Your analysis will help you find a good match between your abilities and available jobs.  Often, a small boost in your skills can make all the difference in landing the job of your dreams.

You’ve now completed your personal inventory and can used this introspection to help you boost your career! Keep reading for more tools and tips.

Personal Inventory – Step 4: Evaluate your Life Stage, Purpose, and Lifestyle to be sure your job fits your life

Those who have a good life/work balance find that they are happier in life and on the job! This can require some evaluation of where you are in life, what you want out of life, and what kind of lifestyle you want. Here are some things to consider. If you find that your life stage, purpose or lifestyle don’t match your current job, take a look at The 8 Stages of Career Transformation. You have the power to transform your life and your career!

Stage of Life

What is your stage in life? Life is often divided into a variety of life stages. Take a look at The 12 Stages of Life or Erik Erikson’s Developmental Stages. See which stage you are in.

Consider where you are in your career. Are you just starting out and want to select a career that is best for you? Are you mid-career wanting to make a change to better match your lifestyle? Have you been downsized out of a job and need to find a new job fast? Are you looking towards retirement and just want to hang on a few more years? Take a look at 5 Different Career Stages for an Employee. Does your career match the stage of life you are in? If not, you may want to consider a career change.

Your life stage will impact your choices, your job needs, and financial goals. Take a look at Planning for Your Financial Life Stages or Life Stages and Financial Planning to evaluate how your stage of life impacts your financial needs. Your financial needs will impact what you need from a job.

Life Purpose

What is your life purpose? Which kinds of things bring meaning to your life? What activities are rewarding to you? Consider these questions and your answers. Take a look at How to Discover Your Life Purpose in About 20 Minutes or Helping You Find Your Life Purpose. Consider what you like to do, what you enjoy, and what bring you joy! Your life purpose may be right there before you in the things you like to do best!

Relate your life purpose to the job market

Once you have determined your life purpose, consider how your current job relates to your purpose. Do you get excited and want to tell people about a new product? Then maybe you should be working in sales! Have you found in a new passion in helping the younger generation prepare for the future? Teaching may be a good job for you. Look for ways to align your life purpose with your work and you will find your work very fulfilling! Take a look at 6 Steps to Achieving Work-Life Purpose or 10 Ways to Make your Work Your Life’s Purpose. You may enjoy reading some of these books on finding your purpose in life.


What kind of lifestyle do you enjoy? Do you like being in the outdoors? Then an outdoor career may suit you. Do you like having your evenings and weekends free? A Monday through Friday job may work best for you. Do you like having blocks of time to travel? Maybe shift work or longer days with days off in blocks of time are the answer.

Consider how your job schedule impacts your lifestyle. Does your schedule matches the lifestyle you want? You may decide to take a job with a more regular schedule to spend more time with family or friends. When your job matches your lifestyle then you will enjoy a good work/life balance. This can make your life more fulfilling and rewarding.

Why your Resume gets “trashed” and how to avoid it

 Why your Resume gets “trashed and how to avoid  it

Your resume is all important.

Life seems to be a numbers game and sometimes the numbers may not seem to work for you. We’ve compiled some statistics about rejected resumes which explain why some resumes are trashed. Learn the lessons so that you don’t be become part of these statistics.

Reasons your Resume is Rejected

  • Resumes are rejected for even one typo
  • Employers receive the first application within 3 minutes and 30 seconds of posting the job
  • One in three employers reject applications because of something they found online
  • There is a 17% change your cover letter will be read
  • 68% of employers will find you on Facebook
  • 76% of resumes are ignored if your e-mail address is unprofessional
  • 88% job rejection rate if you have a photo of yourself on your resume
  • 89% of businesses planned to use social media networks for recruitment in 2011: 86% LinkedIn, 60% Facebook, 50% Twitter
  • An average of 250 resumes are received for each job position

Pretty interesting information and of course not all employers follow all of these “rules”. Smaller firms will spend more time on a resume and cover letter, while larger HR departments must eliminate candidates more quickly. Don’t become a statistics!

Ways to get your Resume looked at

Here are some ways to make sure someone looks at your resume.  Make sure it has “neat copy” with no errors or mistakes.  Keep it to one page, so that it is easy to read.  Use headings and key words so that the employer can quickly evaluate your skills and capabilities.  Make it easy for the hiring person to understand how you are qualified for the job. You want to make them curious to meet you so that you will be given an interview.

The resume is the first step for you to sell yourself to others, so use it to your advantage..  Make sure it creates a positive reflection on you and what you can do.  Put your best foot forward while still telling the truth.  Be clear and concise as you communicate your job skills, knowledge and abilities.

If You Never Ask, The Answer Will Always Be No

If you Never Ask, the Answer Will Always Be No

Find the job o your dreams

If you never ask, the answer will always be no.  Dear me!  Have you ever felt like you’ll never get the job of your dreams? I have.

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and wonder why I’m going through all this trouble to pursue my passions (Film & Theatre) in an industry that is so competitive, cutthroat, and ultimately known for chewing people up and spitting them out (gulp). We live in a fast-paced society that grows more and more competitive.

Just re-reading that sentence makes my stomach lurch. It seems like there’s always one more thing to do or it feels as though we aren’t doing enough. There you are sitting in an interview waiting room sizing up your competition wondering why on earth you’re there. As a senior, I understand how it feels to be a little fish being thrown into the ocean that is the (insert Jaws theme song here) “job market.”

If I never ask, the answer will always be no to the job of my dreams

Bear with me. Sure, some mornings I wake up with that dread in my gut…but most mornings I wake up full of joy because I get to go to class and analyze film, create and share stories, and just generally do all the things I love to do. It’s a scary prospect that there is a chance that I may not make it in the industry I’ve come to love so much, but whenever I feel that way I remind myself that if I never ask, the answer will always be no.

    • If I never try to become a producer, I’ll never become a producer.
    • When I never go after the jobs I want, I’ll never get the jobs I want.
    • If I never get out of my comfort zone, I’ll live a passionless life or I will get bored because I haven’t challenged myself.
    • When I only do 10% of my work, I’ll only get 10% out of that experience.

Ask to get the job of your dreams

So here’s my two cents: Talk to people in your career field who have “made it” in the job you want. Ask them how they ended up being where they are, and why they decided to pursue that career. Send emails to people you’ve never met before, but hope to be like one day.

I’ve done this so many times and sometimes people say they don’t have time to speak with me, but so what? In that case, I’m proud of myself for having the courage to ask. I’ll never wonder if my life would have taken a different path had I talked to that person or gone after that specific opportunity.

And here’s the amazing part:  they are more than happy to meet with me  After all, people love to talk about themselves and it’s fascinating to learn about the paths people take in life. It’s also easier on them if you pursue them and they don’t have to work so hard to find the perfect person (a.k.a. you). Your path will be entirely your own, and I have no doubt it will be an incredibly interesting story.

I don’t claim to be an expert in job hunting, but you know who is? Debbie Kubena and Monica Jackson…so you should make an appointment and talk to them. Not only are they super friendly and kind, but I get help figuring out how to swim in this ocean. It helps to have people encouraging you and helping you pursue your passions and they are the kind of women who will do just that.

The interview question everyone fails

The Interview Question everyone fails

I recently received some feedback from a recruiter that works for a well-known American brand icon about a particular interview question that most candidates can’t seem to answer correctly. It’s one of the most common questions asked in an interview and one of the most fumbled unknowingly by a candidate. Are you ready for the question??

Why should we hire you?

What most people say

Most people answer with “I’ve always admired your company [Insert whatever reason here]” or use this as an opportunity to show off the research they’ve done about the company. While all of these are decent responses, you can really blow a recruiters socks off by taking a slightly different approach.

What companies want to hear

Employers really would rather hear about how you can help their company, because in the end that is why they want to hire you. Unfortunately, it’s not for your great fashion sense or how you tell the best he-said/she-said jokes. While they might come to love these qualities down the road, your initial purpose is to help grow their company. It is the success that you can bring the specific role, department, or company as a whole.

So next time, take this as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the company AND show off what you can do for them. For example, you’re interviewing with Advertising Agency that has a strong emphasis on account planning. Your answer should go something like this:

“It sounds like you are looking for someone who is a strong communicator and has the ability to draw in new clients with fresh ideas. During my last internship with ABC Advertising I was able to bring in 10 new clients over a 6 month period in 3 different industries. I believe I have the demonstrated ability to conceptualize and introduce new strategies that build brands and increase product growth while maximizing profits.”

Sounds easy enough right?

Best practices for on-campus recruiting

Best Practices for on-campus recruiting

Consider a number of best practices for on-campus recruiting in order to increase your inpact. Increase your visibility on-campus.  It will create a steady pipeline of talent for the organization.  I like to think of different opportunities like a menu where you can take some options and not others.  Selecting options brings satisfaction.

Career Fairs

There is a lot of debate surrounding on-campus recruiting.  In some schools, the numbers of students attending may be dwindling. However, the majority of Universities still see this as being their most successful and well attended event of the semester.  Many students attend the recruiting event, so take advantage of that.  Students can speak to multiple employers in a short time frame without having to travel anywhere. While some companies won’t spend a large chunk of their budget on these events, it is a great way to show community involvement.  It can generate interest that far outweighs the expense.

Student Organization Involvement

These days, student organizations aren’t looking for an employer to hold an information session in their meetings. They would rather hold a resume review or have you speak to a topic related to their organization’s interest. Talk about career options for their majors or the importance of networking. Also, pick a representative who is open, friendly, approachable and charismatic.

Help Out

Watch out for Higher education budgets that are constantly being cut. While you and I realize the importance of funding for career services events, the powers that be may not. So, if your company is interested in having access to students at a particular event (ie. networking breakfasts, site visits, etiquette dinners, speaker panels, etc.) consider sponsoring the event.

On-Campus Recruiting

Many Career Services Offices have interview suites for employers to use free of charge. It is surprising how few companies take advantage of this convenient service. Instead of trying to interview students off-site, you can spend a day on-campus and have students interview between classes.  This makes it easier for students to fit interviews into their schedule. It is usually a more effective way of interviewing for the recruiter as well.

Give Feedback

Career Services offices love to hear new ideas that you think would work for your organization and their students. Share events that have been successful at other campuses.  Make suggestions that would work on their campus.

Be Consistent

Be sure to have a consistent presence at campus events to build brand recognition.  This adds to your company’s reputation. Even if you don’t have immediate openings, it can be worthwhile. There may be a  position that  comes available down the road.  Your regular on-campus contacts may help fill that position.   There is a  direct correlation between employer consistency and student interest. Show up every year to get your name recognized. This can  ultimately cut down on recruiting efforts due to name recognition.

Keep this in mind as you develop your recruiting  methods. The best  strategy is one where you partner with the university’s Career Services Office to navigate their campus. You want  to hiure those who are well prepared from their campus studies.

21 career tips from Stanford faculty

Career tips seems to follow the old adage that advice is worth about as much as you paid for it. So, what are you willing to pay? For most of us, we are getting drowned in all the free advice. Instead, we have collected career advice from some of the best faculty at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. A two year MBA from Stanford costs upwards of $200,000 so it’s good. Therefore, read on.

Career tips

  • Successful people listen. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that ratio. You learn more by listening than talking.
  • Follow the Pareto principle. Always look for the 80/20 of any situation, relationship, or project. Eighty percent of the value is delivered by twenty percent of the product/service. Focus on that 20 percent.
  • Never underestimate the importance of passion. When Warren Buffet finds people to run his business, his key criteria is to find somebody who would do the job whether they would get paid or not. His $58.5 billion in net worth proves it.
  • Be likable. People who are liked have the wind at their backs not in their face. So be liked.
  • Just when you think you’ve got it 100% right, you can be taken down. It doesn’t matter how secure you feel don’t get complacent. Large companies aren’t beaten by startups because they get out resourced they get trumped because they think they have things all figured out.
  • People who are lucky make their own luck. You only make your own luck by staying in the game. Almost everybody thinks they have a million dollar idea but only the select few have the vision and determination to make it into a reality.

Working with People

  • Put on “the cloak” of leadership. A large part of your role as a leader is to inspire and motivate your employees, and people will look to you for confidence. If you were on a plane with engine problems, you don’t want the pilot to say “I am exploring a number of options and hope that…”, you want him to say, “I will do whatever it takes to land this plane.”
  • The outcome of a negotiation is largely a function of your alternatives. Know your next best option, and your next best. It helps to be the smartest person in the room and the most prepared person in the room.
  • You will only be as good as the people you will recruit. Pop culture and the media celebrate individuals and create icons but teams succeed. Think about the wildly successful i-products (iPhone, iPad, iPod) it wasn’t Steve Jobs doing everything, there were numerous teams of hundreds of employees that worked together to make those products into a reality.

Management Best Practices

  • The best scientists can explain complex issues in simple terms. Pretty good scientists can explain complex issues in complex terms. Communication not so that they understand but communication so clearly that they cannot misunderstand.
  • A’s hire A’s. B’s hire C’s. Always strive to hire people better than you are. Take your ego out of it. Surround yourself with great minds and smart people and they will amaze you. Remember teams not individuals succeed.
  • Be a clear, fair manager. For example, when speaking to a business unit leader that isn’t succeeding, say: “I want a strategy to win in 1-page and the objectives we need to hit each quarter to reach them.” Don’t be a jerk but communication expectations and standards of excellence. Provide a vision and get down in the trenches and work.

Create Business Opportunities

  • When considering a business opportunity, look for change. What inflection point are you taking advantage of? Without change, there is rarely opportunity. Sometimes a seemingly meaningless idea can’t be worth billions. How can relationship statuses and vacation pictures be worth billions? Ask Facebook.
  • When in doubt, just keep selling. Not a bad default strategy to communicate to your team. It concerted, persistent effort.
  • Be humble. The markets are brutal to those who are arrogant.
  • Understand what you don’t do well. First, know thyself. Surround yourself with people and resources that can do these things well. Blind spots are for cars not people.
  • Practice self-discipline. Set targets, have timetables, have clear unambiguous goals. Life passes quickly – days, weeks, months, years, a lifetime. “Regret for the things we did, can be tempered by time. It is regret for the things that we did not do that is inconsolable.”

Trust in yourself

  • Be yourself. In group settings, you usually serve the group best by thoughtfully expressing exactly what you are thinking. Not necessarily what the group wants to hear. The world has enough yes men, learn to communicate the truth and you will be very valuable.
  • Learn to relax. Overachievers are often passionate about many things. It’s important to learn not to always care so much. Try being indifferent to things that aren’t that important.
  • You’ve got to give trust to get trust. Treat people as you would want to be treated. Sometimes people take advantage of you. That’s fine, don’t do business with them again.
  • Shoot for the moon. To be successful, don’t follow the pack. If you want to win, don’t hedge.

“Appreciate the people you work with, take care of your investors, celebrate successes along the way, communicate lavishly – good news and bad news, tell the truth, don’t try to maximize everything, and take time to stop and smell the roses. Life is pretty short and most of what really matters doesn’t happen at the office.”