Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thorough Personal Assessment for a Job

When considering a new job, you need to understand whether it can meet your values, satisfy your drivers, and match your skills. By conducting an honest, thorough personal assessment, you can proactively focus your search. You can seek out what will make you happy instead of molding yourself to fit what was/is available…

Knowing your desires and needs is essential to being happy and productive in your job. Use honest introspection and responses during your interview to answer these questions:
·         Do you want to do research and development? Applied research? Sales? A job outside the lab? Something else?
·         Do you have a strong preference to work alone, on a team, or to lead teams?
·         Do you have the skills to do successfully what you want to do? If not, what is needed?
·         Can you do the job you´re considering? If not, what training or skills do you need to develop?
·         Are your credentials or country of citizenship or residency an issue?
·         Is the geographic location of the job a problem? (It could be, for example, if you´re a regular caregiver for other family members.)
·         Is travel or time away from home required?
·         Do you want to be able to publish? To attend scientific or other meetings?
·         Are the benefits appropriate for your needs (health and other insurance)?
·         Are special religious holidays a concern?
·         What specialized resources would you need for your job? (Examples might be large expensive equipment like NMRs or mass spectrometers, or highly specific library publications and journals.)
Assess your values in relation to your target job and employer. The better you know your values and job demands, the better prepared you will be to find your ideal employer. 

In addition to your personal values, you have professional motivators that influence why and how you do your job as well as what you want your job to provide. Determine what motivators your job must provide to match what drives you. We´ve identified five principal drivers to get you started. Think carefully about which are most important to you, remembering that their relative importance to you may change with time:

·         Advancement. Individuals who want advancement seek recognition or promotions for their talents and accomplishments on the job. Apart from monetary rewards, a simple “thank you” for a job well done, praise in the in-house newsletter, or a new job title is also a welcome acknowledgment. Although most employees hope their careers will offer opportunities for upward mobility and growth, those driven by advancement feel this urge more profoundly. If not advancing to their satisfaction, they´ll move to another organization offering better prospects.

·         Autonomy. Autonomous individuals have a strong need to do things their own way, at their own pace, and in line with their own standards. These individuals may find organizational life too restrictive and may seek a work environment that offers more freedom, such as consulting, teaching, or starting their own business. Challenge. Those who thrive on challenge have a competitive nature that drives them to overcome obstacles and to solve problems. These individuals may consider salary, job titles, and work area as secondary to the challenge of the task at hand. Most chemistry jobs contain some element of challenge; the variation is great — from large challenges like creating a new technology platform to small ones like routine analysis.

·         Security. Security-driven individuals need stability and will seek an employer with a reputation for not reducing the workforce. They might look for jobs with tenure and predictable benefits, such as those in government. These individuals tend to be stable, reliable workers who will not challenge the system.

·         Balance. Those who desire life balance tend to seek equilibrium in all aspects of their lives. Time is especially important — for example, they don´t want to have to choose between family considerations and career success or self-development goals. Their life styles will influence decisions on such issues as relocation, family needs, work hours, and employee benefits.

A basic skill list is an important tool in your job search; use it to:
·         Identify areas in which you excel.
·         Determine which ads/postings to respond to.
·         Match your areas of expertise to employers needs to sell yourself.
·         Include skills in your résumé that are targeted to specific jobs.
·         Answer questions during interviews.
·         Assess a good job fit.
·         Increase self-confidence to market yourself.

Here are a few tips for generating a skills list:
·         Find a quiet place, away from distractions. Sit down with a pen and paper, packet of 3" x 5" cards, or a computer with a database-sorting program.
·         Divide your life into logical segments such as before college, college, graduate school, postdoctoral, job 1, job 2, and so on.
·         Think about each period and record all the accomplishments you can recall — everything you achieved personally or professionally, in any order. Try to remember things you have done of which you are most proud.

Do this exercise several times over a few weeks. 

Once your accomplishments list is complete:
·         Identify the skill categories that apply to each. Examples include chemistry sub-categories (organic, synthesis, natural products, whatever you excel at doing), communications, computers, literature searches, dealing with regulations, managing/ leadership, developing teams, testing, analysis (with subcategories such as NMR or mass spectrometry), business acumen, creativity, and so on.
·         Group and refine your skill categories until you have 8 to 10 main categories.
·         Beside each accomplishment, write the skills categories that were used.
·         Sort the list by skill category.
·         Edit the list to remove redundancies and non-meaningful entries.
When you´ve finished, you will have your skill list — a straightforward itemization of your abilities, with each backed up by specific accomplishments where you demonstrated that skill. Keep a current list of your abilities and accomplishments handy. Today´s chemist needs soft skills as well as technical competence. 

In addition to the uses described above, this process may reveal new career paths for you to explore. For example, an organic chemist could consider a job as a technical information specialist because of literature search skills. 

In summary, you want to give serious and considered thought to what truly stimulates and excites you, what you can tolerate, and what you can´t stand. Then look at ways to maximize the amount of time you spend doing the former, and minimize the latter.

No comments:

Post a Comment