Insights from Outside: Polling your network to chart your career path
As we go through life it can be easy to get stuck in one belief of who we are and what we are supposed to do, especially when it comes to our careers. Polling your friends, peers and former colleagues may unlock career potential never before imagined.
After reading How to Identify Your Next Career Move by Rebecca Zucker on Forbes, I decided to formalize asking my friends and family for their input on my next career move. I put the following questions from the article into a Google Form and sent it out:
- What three adjectives would you use to describe me?
- What do you see as my greatest strengths or talents?
- What competencies, if acquired or developed further, would most benefit me in my career?
- In what types of situations am I at my best?
- What have you seen me get most excited about?
- In what types of jobs or careers would you see me thrive the most, and why? Which ones would I not enjoy, and why?
While I thought the most value would come from finding some sort of direction to head, what I actually found was that reading through the answers opened my eyes to skills and jobs I wouldn’t have thought of for myself or would have quickly dismissed if they had come to mind. My friends’ responses pushed me out of my comfort zone and gave me a fresh set of perspectives. They challenged me to picture myself in a variety of roles. They also gave me confidence that others could see my skills. For example, “managing multiple priorities” came up. I had just worked for a company full of talented project managers. I didn’t necessarily think of it as a ‘strength’ to me, it was just a function of my day to day job. Having them pull out that specific skill made me see it as a talent I had learned.
Making a Google Form may or may not be the best way for you to collect the input of your network. See below for a sample email a well-established professional sent to reconnect with their own strengths and chart their next move. Regardless of how you decide to get this input I do encourage you to poll other people. While we know ourselves the best, we are also most often our harshest critics. Let others show you the many ways in which you are talented and add value to teams.
Subject: Quick 1-minute help
I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to ask for your help in a self-discovery program that I am embarking on. As part of this journey, I am trying to identify my strengths and unique abilities, or in other words, my superpower.
I would really appreciate it if you could take a few minutes to answer the following question: What do you think is my superpower? It can be something you’ve noticed about me at work, something I’ve done that impressed you, or just a general observation about my personality.
I value your opinion and feedback, and I think it would be interesting to see if there are any common threads or themes that emerge from your responses. Your input will be a valuable part of this process, and I thank you in advance for your help.
As a thank you, I will reply back with what I feel is your superpower (life is hard right now for most of us and we could all use a boost.)
Thank you for helping me with this program.