The idea of having to learn about yourself is weird. You're you. You live with yourself 24/7. If anybody knows you, it's you. You're the only you in the world, and frankly, you are the expert on yourself.
This is all true. But it's also true we can't always see ourselves clearly. Our insides don't always match the outside.
The reality is that people who are close to you notice all sorts of interesting things about you that might be a surprise to you. I have learned from my beloved that I'm completely, and perhaps unreasonably, obsessive-compulsive about the use, location, composition, and cleanliness of kitchen linens. It's absolutely true. But if you had asked me to list 200 things about myself, it would not have made the list. It wasn't even on the radar.
Job searching requires that you know a lot about yourself, including the things you might not already know. You're going to answer the interviewer's questions about your history, experience, what motivates you, and probably some off-the-wall questions you've never thought about.
You also need to find out more about how you come across to others because your opportunity to connect with potential employers is limited and you want to make the best of the time you have.
This brings us to a tool for self-exploration called the Johari Window. It's a weird name that is the combination of the first names of the people who came up with it, Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham. It's a classic 4 box with the variables of what you know and don't know about yourself on the horizontal axis and what others know and don't know about you on the vertical axis. Like this:
You can ignore the Open and Unknown boxes; they just fill out the chart. Everyone already knows everything in the Open box and nobody can ever know the things in the Unknown box.
It's the Blind Spot and Hidden boxes that are interesting.
The Blind Spot is things that other people know about you but you don't know.
This is where you need some trusted friends to help you. Tell them that you're job searching and plan to be interviewing soon. Ask them if there are things they notice about you that you might not realize. It's really important to pick friends who will see this as an opportunity to be kind and helpful and not hurt your feelings.
Another good approach is to get a friend and have a fun conversation that you record on video with your phone or computer. Then you can play it back and talk about things you see that you might want to adjust or practice to do differently. For example, I use "okay" or "right" as a place holder to acknowledge what the other person said and give myself a moment to think before I answer or ask the next question. I decided that it wasn't that big a deal, but I also practiced just being silent while I think. Thinking is good. Someone also noticed recently that I use "so" a lot as a transition in my writing. So now I search the document for "so's" to see if that's what I really want to use. (I decided to keep that one for fun.)
Explore your Blind Spot. It will help you with job searching and you'll learn some interesting and useful things about yourself too.
The Hidden box is things that you know about yourself but keep close and don't generally reveal. Some things you absolutely should keep hidden while job searching, such as your marital status, age, medical information, information about your family, and any disabilities (at least until after you have accepted an offer and need any accommodations). Not all of these things are hidden to everyone but you, but it's good to define your hidden job searching box. Review your resume to see if there is information that might reveal this information.
There also may be some information that you don't generally reveal, but might be worth reconsidering. For example, if you love to knit but would never talk about it in an interview for a job that requires coding, consider that they both involve similar skills, including making something magical out of very little.
Learning about yourself is an important part of job searching to prepare to be out there and also to get more comfortable in your own skin.
Read on for more ways to make your job search a success: Getting to Know Yourself While Job Searching
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