Career Mom Typing on a Laptop.

I’ve been using this simple exercise with clients to help them gain confidence as they go through a career transition. It is a more personalized (and positive!) take on a 360-degree review, which is a common practice for managers and senior executives in the corporate world.  Only good stuff, people!  Nice.  (I will touch on your developmental needs in a future post)

Take the time to go through this activity and you will:

  • Gain new perspectives on how others see you
  • Determine what else you might be good at (new job ideas!)
  • See synergies between your best features and how those characteristics can be of value to employers
  • Collect language to weave into your elevator pitch, LinkedIn profile, interview responses and resume/cover letter
  • Boost your confidence! This feedback may be just the push you need to take action to find that new, fabulous job

You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the responses you collect. Ok, I realize the exercise is biased to collect only positive feedback, but there are times in our lives when we really need to hear how wonderful we are.  Career transition is hard work so fortify yourself with the lovingly authentic comments from the people who know and love you.

Seven Steps to Tap Into What Others See in You:

Step 1: List the three top professional skills that you believe you possess.

Step 2: Ask a colleague or manager to list what he or she believes to be your top three skills.

Step 3: Ask a direct report or close friend/family member to also share the top three skills he or she feels you possess.

Step 4: Review the three lists.

Step 5: Make a master list of the key points.

Step 6: Answer this question with language from your list: “What are my most valuable contributions?” in a sentence or two. This becomes the beginnings of how you describe yourself or your “personal brand”.

Step 7: Continue to tweak your brand with each professional interaction.  Check in with your response from time to time – is it getting the response you’re looking for? Does it feel genuine and from the heart?

I’m helping a client who’s been a stay-at-home mom for about seven years to move back into the workforce. When she went through this feedback exercise, she was astounded by how quickly her network responded. It confirmed for her the skills she knew she possessed and enjoyed using. Through the process she also discovered things about herself that she’d never thought of before. We used the responses to create a winning elevator pitch and she’s now putting herself “out there” in the job market with renewed confidence.

While my client was understandably uncomfortable asking people to compliment her, when she wrote her email request to her contacts she indicated that her career coach was “making” her do this work. Feel free to reference me in your own “ask” if it makes you feel better, for example:

As I’m going through a career transition I’m taking steps to better understand my qualifications and myself. I read a blog post from CareerFit Mom who suggested I ask a few special members of my network for some feedback to help formulate the valuable contributions I make at work. Would you kindly support me in this exercise by letting me know what you feel are my top three professional skills?

Enjoy the process of asking others about your top skills.  You deserve the recognition.  Now create career karma by offering up some unsolicited feedback to someone who needs it too.

Image originally from U.S. Mission Geneva / Eric Bridiers