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Start Your Career Transition: Step 2 – Engage Others

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Step 2 – Engage Others

Now that you have a clear picture of yourself (see Step 1 post), take some time to engage others who know you, such as:  friends, family, co-workers, peers, clients, professional colleagues, fellow volunteers, etc.  Think of ~15-25 people who you can invite to participate in your journey – more is better.  Tell them you are seeking some feedback from people who know you or who you’ve worked with as you do some career and life planning.  Ask for 15 minutes of their time (or take the opportunity for a longer coffee meet-up or lunch, or …).

Questions

  1. How would you describe me and my work?  As if you were recommending me for a job or someone asked you as a reference.  Please be honest with things you think are good or might seem bad.
  2. How does it FEEL to work with me?  They may struggle with this one a little, but allow them time to think and process.  You may need to offer one word that another person used in response to this question to help get them started.

What You Are Doing During the Conversation

  • Listening – not thinking
  • Writing – capture notes so you can think about it later
  • Being open to whatever they have to say – keep your feelings in check, remember you asked them for feedback, and watch out for your body language and facial expressions.  You may want to take a couple of deep breaths before you begin.
  • Allow time for them to respond.  Wait for SEVEN seconds after you ask the question before you say anything!  People need time to think about their response.
  • You may want to offer one example of feedback that someone else gave you in a prior conversation, but keep it short and let them know you only want to spur their thinking, not to shape it.

Once complete, in one sitting, read through the notes from all of your conversations and begin to capture words, images, and themes you find throughout.

  • You’ll start to notice common words that people use to describe your work or what it feels like to work with you.  For example, I found that people used words like “engaging” and “energizing” and I also heard words like “intimidating”.  Be ready to capture the complete picture.
  • You may notice common imagery that people use in response to the questions.  For example, the image of “Forrest and Trees” was often used to describe what was unique about my perspective.
  • Look for other themes you may notice about the words people use.  Are they active?  Are they passive?  What percentage feel positive to you vs. negative?  Etc.

Reflection Activity

Take the time to reflect on what you find in your notes and what this tells you about yourself.  Consider it in light of what your learned about yourself in Step 1.  You may find a reflective writing technique will help you at this point.  Here are some reflective questions to consider:

  • What does NOT surprise me?
  • What does this simply reinforce about myself?
  • What DOES surprise me?
  • What did I not understand before, but now makes so much more sense?
  • After going through this process, how does it make me feel?
  • Now, how will I describe myself?  For example, if in an elevator with someone or in a job interview, what clear and concise words or phrases can you use?  Write several brief descriptions using three sentences or less.

Other Posts in This Series:

Start Your Career Transition, Step 1 – First Know Thyself

Start Your Career Transition: Step 3 – Word Research

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