Self-Awareness

Individual wearing a suit and holding eyeglasses

Let’s face it: The demands of life require money. You, reader, need a job or look forward to a future career. Where do you start? Considering approximately one-third of your life will be spent at work, a good beginning is to think through how you want to spend your valuable time. Know what you enjoy.

Consider the following approach when beginning a job search:

  • Take an inventory of your interests. Focus your job search on positions that match what you are naturally curious about.
  • Identify your natural or learned abilities and the areas you want to improve. Consider your current abilities, which jobs your current skill set might best suit, and what adjustments you want to make to better prepare for your desired job. Consider how you might market your skills to a potential employer.
  • Get a good sense of how others perceive you. You can emphasize your strengths, improve and minimize your weaknesses, and take control of your image.
  • Recognize your job-related values. Focus your efforts on finding a good career match on the most important things. If you value freedom over security, you might prefer self-employment over working for a single-location company run by others. If you value a good work-life balance, you will likely prefer a job that does not require long overtime hours or a lot of travel. If you value a high salary and fast career advancement, you will probably find more satisfaction at a large corporation than at a small non-profit organization.
  • Know who is in your personal network. Most job seekers get hired through a personal connection. The relationships may be casual, familial, professional, or intimate.
  • Expand your network. Like any other skill, becoming a good networker requires a lot of practice. In your daily life, many occasions to network will present themselves. You need to identify and act on them. Seek opportunities to meet others via organized clubs, professional organizations, student groups, local committees, volunteering, and while simply out and about.
  • Maintain your network. Keep in touch regularly so your contacts remember you. This can be done by regularly communicating with them about what is going on in their lives with an appropriate level of curiosity and enthusiasm.
  • Prepare a functional and current working portfolio—Collect materials representative of work you have done, whether paid, volunteer, full-time, or part-time. When presented professionally, a portfolio can be used in various ways: as a central element of the sales pitch you use when applying for a job, as supporting documentation during a job interview, and as a showcase of relevant work for a member of your professional network.

The Job Seeker’s Toolkit

This article is based on the APH Job Seeker’s Toolkit, a free, self-paced, comprehensive, and accessible guide to the employment process.

This article and The Job Seeker’s Toolkit are based on the 2nd edition of The Transition Tote System, by Karen Wolffe and Debbie Johnson (1997, American Printing House for the Blind).

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