1. Self-analysis is the first step to realizing your career objectives:
What would you answer if you were asked, "Tell me about yourself"? Be prepared to answer this question (which is an interview favorite) by knowing your skills, values, and interests (SVI).
a) Skills are things you can do well.
Make a list of your skills. Spot 50-100 skills that you have. Note specific skills: Word skills, Excel skills, etc.
Examples: Analytical, Budgeting, Communication, Computing, Counseling, Debating/Language, Excel, Hiring staff, Internet, Interpersonal, Leadership, Negotiation, Organizational, Planning, Programming, Project management, Team management, Teamwork, Technical, Word, Writing.
b) Values are principles you find important or motivating.
Note the values that are most important to you. These can help you narrow your search during job selection. High salary, recognition, prestige, travel opportunities, etc. are some examples of values. Write down around 10-15.
Examples: Adventure, Aesthetics, Altruism, Belonging, Challenges, Commitment, Creativity, Ethics, Family, Fairness, Honesty, Independence, Love, Prestige, Recognition, Respect, Responsibility, Salary, Security, Self-esteem, Travel opportunity, Trust, Vacation, Variety.
c) Interests are things you like doing.
Ask yourself what you enjoy. Examine both your personal and professional interests, such as writing, socializing, programming, etc. Some people are willing to pay you to do what you love doing. Write down at least 30-40 things you enjoy doing.
Examples: Arts, Organizing or Participating in Conferences, Dancing, Designing, Dressmaking, Entertainment, Exercising, Gardening, Internet, Jewelry making, Painting, Piloting, Racing, Sculpting, Singing, Socializing, Table games, Team games, Traveling, Water sports, Woodworking, Writing.
Make a fresh list of your Top 10 Skills, Values, and Interests (SVI) from the previous lists.
2. Spot careers that meet your goals:
Look out for overlaps in your SVI list. Are there any job titles that fit these overlaps? Pass copies of your list to friends and family and ask for their opinion on jobs from different areas where your skills are valuable. Find out what skills are required in these careers: e.g. Editorial positions, like all careers in writing, require good language, writing, and analytical skills. They might also require typing and word processing skills.
Career Counselors provide support like:
- Helping in evaluating and prioritizing your skills, values, and interests.
- Matching your SVI with job titles.
- Helping you focus on potential careers.
- Finding job openings in your fields of interest, and posting you up for jobs.
- Grooming you for interviews.
- Helping polishing documents like cover letters, resumes, and applications.
Career counseling can be instrumental in this early stage of your job search. A counselor would evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, recognize overlaps in your SVI list, and suggest potential career areas. Counselors will also help you identify your goals and look out for potential offers that satisfy your needs.
3. Match yourself with careers:
Note your skills and needs that coincide with those of the career areas.
What can you offer employers?
Use your skills list to identify your "transferable skills"; these are general skills you acquire during any activity or which you can apply to your prospective job, e.g. communication skills. These will help you identify careers. Use past ventures or job experience to find other specific skills you have acquired that match your job. These are "job-content skills" such as book-keeping, accounting, or software programming skills acquired from office work. These would help in hunting down specific jobs which would require these specific skills.
What do you gain from the job?
On-the-job training. Look out for internships, job shadowing, and other educational opportunities through which you can sharpen your skills.
How do you benefit from this career?
Realize how this job will help you meet your career goals. This is a question often asked at interviews.
4. Define your perfect job:
To know what your ideal job involves, you need to review what you have enjoyed in your previous jobs and what you would like to avoid. Make a list of all the types of work you have done before, and categorize them (by job title, boss, location, time, etc). Make two lists of what you liked and what you did not like about each job. Prioritize these items to identify what you wish to have or to avoid in your next job.
5. Job Hunting:
Now that you’ve discovered potential careers, and what you want (and what you don’t want) from your job, identify the jobs that meet your needs. Select 3 potential career choices and look for jobs offered in these careers.
Where can you search for jobs?
- Online resources now target specific areas. CareerMidEast.com targets specific locations in the
- Post your resume online and register with agencies.
- In newspapers and (area-related) magazines such as Business Weekly, the Economist, or Egypt Today.
- Don’t wait for companies to announce vacancies; these are not always publicly disclosed. Instead, research and ask around for job openings and take the initiative to contact companies.
- Look out for newly founded companies; they may have unpublished job openings.
- Information about jobs may also come through friends, so keep them informed of your situation and interests.
6. Pinpoint jobs seeking your skills:
After your research, target specific companies to which you would like to apply.
Find out which of your skills interest them, specifically. Identify how they meet your goals and what sacrifices you can make to achieve these goals.
7. Do your homework:
Find out about the industry into which you are applying. Your research will help you prepare for interviews and make a good impression. Be informed on the latest news in your field. Create your own "persuasion package": match your skills with the company’s needs, and present how you can meet their interests. Tailor your application, resume, cover letter, interviews keeping the company’s needs in mind. Browse career-related sites for help with your documents and preparation for meetings, interviews, etc. Career centers can help offer relevant information to your jobs. Present yourself as professional by being prepared, punctual, and formally dressed. Information is power. Be passionately involved in your career field and find out what’s new and upcoming. Look out for jobs, contacts, and work opportunities. Take the initiative to visit career centers and workplaces. Be prepared and a job will find you!
Glossary of Terms
- Career is a general area of interest, e.g. career in writing.
- Career sites or centers are places where you find career-related information and help.
- Interests are things you like doing.
- Internships are a form part-time employment and opportunities for training in specific careers and skills.
- Job content skills are skills that are job-specific, like book-keeping, budgeting, software programming, etc. These are useful when targeting specific jobs where you can highlight your specific skills in the area.
- Job Shadowing allows you to spend a day with, or "shadow," a person who works in your field of interest.
- Job title is a specific work that you will be doing, i.e. Research Assistant, Managing Director, etc.
- Skills are things you can do well.
- Transferable skills are general skills you acquired previously that can be applied to any jobs, e.g. communication, analytical, interpersonal skills etc.
- Values are things you find important or motivating in your life.